The impact on probate real estate after the California State Budget signed by the Governor on June 29, 2020, resulted in an excess of $16M deficit for the Santa Clara County Superior Court.
How Will Budget Cuts Impact Probate Real Estate?
The state Budget cuts came less than two weeks after the Santa Clara County Probate Court announced it would resume hearings on June 17, 2020, after not hearing probate cases due to COVID-19 and the shelter-in-place order.
As the extended tax season comes to a close there may be additional cuts later this year due to the uncertainty of the State General Fund revenues. The court may get some restored funding if California receives $14 billion of flexible federal funding by October 15, 2020.
Eighty percent (80%) of the Court’s expense is accounted for with employee payroll. In order to bridge the Sixteen Million Dollar gap in the courts budget, side letter agreements were negotiated with Service Employees International United and Operating Engineers Local 3 which include the following employees representing 44% of the total court staff:
- information technology
- court managers and supervisors
- legal research attorneys
- family court services mediators
- self-help attorneys
- court reporters
The side letter agreements provide for cost-saving measures such as:
- leaves of absence
- separation incentives
- 26 furlough days
- voluntary programs such as additional furlough days
In addition, 26 furlough days were also imposed on executive and unrepresented staff.
A proposal for 26 furlough days and voluntary separation incentives was made to Communications Workers of America – California Federation of Interpreters comprised of interpreters and accounts for about 4% of the court’s staff and Superior Court Professional Employees Association which represents 52% of the court staff. Employees in the Superior Court Professional Employees Association include:
- probate examiners
- court investigators
- criminal information specialists
- courtroom clerks
- court specialists
- legal process clerks
- janitors and others
Neither agreed to negotiate the proposal.
Santa Clara County Probate Real Estate
We discuss in detail the impact of COVID-19 on probate real estate in Santa Clara County. As the real estate market starts to pick up and homes can be shown with restrictions, the budget cuts mean it will take even longer to get a hearing date so an executor can sell a house.
It will take longer because there already exists a huge backlog of cases waiting to be heard. Given the staff is taking 26 furlough days, and some may be taking separation incentives and leaves of absence, there will be fewer people available to participate in the hearing process. Potential layoffs will also impact the time it takes to get a hearing date.
Executors and Administrators must be appointed by the probate court and issue Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration before they can hire a probate real estate agent to list a probate property for sale.
While waiting for a court appointment we recommend interviewing certified probate real estate specialists and determining who to hire. That way, no more time is lost in getting the probate property sold.
We specialize in probate real estate. Give us a call at 408-972-1822 or request a consultation.