I have been asked the questions many times how should people hold title to real estate in California. Let's talk about the options.
First and foremost, for anybody that owns real estate in California, the best method is in a California revocable living trust. The other options, below, are a distant second place. Why is that? The main reason is that trust ownership avoids probate after death and it also avoids the need for a conservatorship if incapacity happens during life. It's really that simple. Probate and conservatorships are extremely expensive and should pretty much always be avoided. So owning a property in a revocable living trust is the best.
However, owning property in a trust is not the only method and there is one primary reason everybody does not ha
I recently became acquainted with HomeLight.com. This website helps consumers find experienced Realtors to help them with their home sale among other features. It's a really robust site and I encourage my readers to check it out!
It has extensive information about the probate process and helping you find a probate experienced Realtor. This is a great resource for a person who is selling a house in an area and you haven't received any referrals. Homelight.com screens the Realtors to find the best of the best and, in particular, those with probate experience. Here's the probate page: https://www.homelight.com/probate-real-estate
Another feature I really like is the appraisal estimator. This aggregates multiple sites, like Zillow, to give you a broad range of value. Here's that feature:
I was recently contacted by a potential client who lived in California. They had lost a loved one and wanted to know about probating their loved one's will. That all sounds simple so far but wait....
Like many their loved one had set up a will and trust in the US and put some, but not all, of their assets into the trust. This is a common problem so please heed this public service message: FUND YOUR TRUST WHILE YOU ARE ALIVE!
Their loved one further complicated the situation by moving to another state in the union and then moving to a foreign country which is where they resided at death.
Can a California probate attorney help?
Wellllllll, it's complicated.
Two different thoughts came to me:
Even if you have the best California probate attorney you can get a bad court date. In most cases there are two court dates given. One at the beginning when you file the Petition for Probate or Petition for Letters Testamentary or Petition for Letters of Administration. The second date is at the end of probate when you file your accounting which is often called a First and Final Report.
I always ask the Court to actually follow the law and give my clients a court date within 30 days as provided in California probate code 8003. That section provides, in part, "The hearing on the petition shall be set for a day not less than 15 nor more than 30 days after the petition is filed." However, many courts ignore the law and still file 2 or 3 months out.
So the first court date does at least ha