Temecula Real Estate: What is Probate?
When searching the MLS for Temecula Real Estate, the searcher will occasionally find Probate Listings and often become confused as to what this status actually means. Many times, the home shopper will ask their REALTOR about the Probate process, only to have the question dodged and a discouraging reply, such as, “It’s a long, complicated and unpredictable process with an uncertain outcome that must be approved by the court.” Sadly, the home is then overlooked and more traditional listings are then pursued.
Probate, by its very definition is a legal process that oversees the settlement of an estate and transfers the assets…the houses, other real estate interests, cars, stocks, bonds, boats, collections and other personal possessions from the deceased person’s name into his or her estate. Once the assets are in the estate they can now be sold and liquidated to first pay off the debts and obligations of the deceased and then ultimately distributed to the heirs of the decedent.
Probate is a process that can literally take years – depending on how complicated the estate is; the level of cooperation level amongst the beneficiaries; and the motivation (or the speed and follow-through) and competency of the Executor or Administrator of the estate.
While this series of article is an oversimplification of what takes place in Probate, the process for those who own real estate in Temecula when they pass must go through the Riverside County, California Superior Court and follows these general guidelines. Please note I am neither an attorney nor offering Legal Advice – simply a layman real estate agent putting my personal understanding and experience of Probate into a simplified explanation for the average person to help understand. When faced with a Probate scenario, please consult with an appropriate authority or attorney.
Executor or Administrator?
The terms Executor and Administrator are often confused. They are both legal titles and both have, in essence the same responsibilities and same level of authority. The difference between the two is left up to the decedent – Is there a will?
The term ‘testate’ indicates that the deceased passed with a will. When the estate is testate, there is a will and the Executor/Executrix is charged with the responsibility of managing the estate. When one passes without a will, the estate is referred to as ‘intestate’ and the person charged with the responsibility of administrating the estate is the Administrator/Administratrix.
Typically, the Executor of an estate is called out in a will, with an alternate in case the designated individual either does not want the responsibility or cannot take it for any number of reasons. An Executor can be granted either ‘Full Authority’ of ‘Limited Authority’. A Limited Authority Executor must seek the courts approval for most major decisions – a Full Authority Executor is pretty much free to act on his/her own judgment and not have to be monitored in the day-to-day affairs of the estate. In any event, the court always maintains the right to step in and ensure that the affairs of the estate are handled legally and ethically.
Bonds are sometime required for an Administrator. The most common being if the deceased called for this provision in the will. There are other circumstances that may trigger the court requiring a 10% bond – of the Executors own money (not from the estate). If the Executor does not have the funds, but is willing to accept the responsibilities then the court may appoint the Executor with Limited Authority.
Regardless if the estate is testate or intestate, the Executor or Administrator is often referred to as the ‘Personal Representative’ or ‘PR’.
Did This Help?
The goal of this article is to launch a series of articles that collectively will skim across the surface of the Probate process to help anyone who finds themselves having to deal with the loss of a loved one grasp a superficial understanding of the process and the players involved. As I mentioned above, I am not an attorney nor am I attempting to provide any sort of legal advice. Having lost my own mother and wife in the last 10 years suffice it to say I have an understanding of the emotional pain one is going through while at the same time being forced to make consequential decisions in an area you are completely unprepared to deal with.
With this goal in mind, I look forward to sharring additional information as to how the Probate process operates and how to best prepare yourself.
Now have a Blessed Day,