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Selling a loved one’s house in probate: It is a complex process

On Behalf of | Jan 21, 2020 | Probate |

For most people, their home is the most expensive asset in their name. Therefore, it is also one of the most expensive assets that you and your family must deal with during probate.

If your loved ones do not leave explicit instructions or designate their house to a specific person, it might be necessary to sell the home to repay debts on the estate or divide the assets according to the will. However, selling a house during probate can often be complex.

Here are a few essential things you should know.

What are the rules for selling a house in probate?

The California Probate Code establishes extensive rules for probate home sales, and it is not possible to cover all the rules and details of this process in one blog post. However, we can provide a brief overview.

The most important detail that you, as the personal representative, must understand is that court approval is usually necessary to sell the home. The only exception to this is if you are granted full authority under the Independent Administration of Estates Act (IAEA) as the personal representative by the Court. Otherwise, you must:

  • Get court approval to move forward with the sale;
  • Publish a Notice of Sale in a newspaper of general circulation;
  • Sufficiently market the property for sale to obtain the highest possible offer;
  • Obtain an appraisal by a court-appointed Probate Referee of the property to ensure you mark a proper listing price;
  • Sell the property for at least 90% of the value appraised by a Probate Referee; and
  • Have the sale confirmed and approved by the Court at hearing subject to overbids.

Once the sale is completed, you must ensure that the proceeds are combined with your loved one’s estate. Then, you can move forward with paying off debts and distributing leftover assets among beneficiaries.

However, some beneficiaries might also pose a challenge to selling the house.

Objections from beneficiaries could postpone the sale

Even if you have full authority to administer the estate, you are still required to notify all beneficiaries of your intent to sell the home.

Other children or relatives of your lost loved one might protest to the sale because they wish to keep the home for sentimental value or because they are occupying the property. Even if you have found a buyer and reached an agreement with them, an objection from a beneficiary could lead to a court hearing and auction where many parties can bid for the house, including:

  • Prospective buyers or investors;
  • Beneficiaries; or
  • Any other interested parties.

Dealing with real property in probate can be a stressful process for you, your family and any other heirs or beneficiaries. That is why it is often beneficial to consult an experienced attorney, so you can protect your rights and the wishes of your loved ones.