Recently I have been involved with a number of families were trying to sell homes they thought they inherited or had title to, but wound up in Probate instead. Since the Probate courts are backed up, this can cause delays, heartache, and tension for the families and were problems that probably could have been avoided.


I want to say firmly, I am not a lawyer. I am a Realtor who specializes in selling homes in Probate and this is not legal advice. If you are going to be involved in intra family title changes PLEASE get the advice of a lawyer. This is complicated stuff.


I just want to give you a few examples so you can see that you should not assume anything when it comes to Probate sales.


First Example:


Mom owns home in Redwood City free and clear with no mortgage. She has 4 children and wants only 2 of the children to inherit the home. She signs a deed transfer her daughter, not a lawyer, drew up saying that instead of owning the house only in her name she gives 1/3 interest to one daughter and 1/3 interest to one son.


Mom dies. Son and daughter think they inherit the house 50/50, but that did not happeb. Deed does not say all three own as Joint Tenants. That would have provided the right of survivorship. Not only that, but daughter as executor of estate can’t sell the house. The 1/3 interest of Mom now has to go through probate and since there was no will all 4 children get to split Mom’s 1/3. Daughter has to be appointed by the Probate Court as Administrator of the Estate before she can sell the home.


It gets worse. They have to go through probate, hire a lawyer, and pay court costs for 1/3 interest in a house.


The mistake here was not spending the money up front to get advice on how to accomplish Mom’s wish that only two of her children inherit the house.


Tomorrow I will give you details on other issues that have come up in my Probate sales.


If you have any questions about selling a home in Probate in Half Moon Bay or anywhere else in the Bay area please feel free to contact me.


Marcy Moyer

Keller Williams Realty

Specializing in Probate and Trust Sales


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  • Thank you. I have not had great experiences with probate attorneys. I once negotiated a short sale in a probate and got the bank to pay the attorney fee of $18,000. When I asked for referrals, the attorney simply said he does not work with agents even though I got the bank to pay his fee with no money out of our mutual client's pocket. 

     I was hoping for some advice in screening for attorneys who are agent friendly. Thanks again!

  • Chuck Perry just asked a great question. My suggestion to him is to call some attorneys who specialize in Probate and asked them if they have any experience in oil and gas rights. If you can not find someone that way then see if you can find an attorney who knows about Oil and Gas Rights and see if they have experience with Probate Properties. Then speak with the client about what is involved with selling and buying a property with this very particular right. Try to explain the pitfalls of not preserving your legal rights to this valuable aspect of the property.

  • Hi Marcy,

    I am dealing with 2 probate properties now. One commercial and one residential with oil and gas rights. The commercial is probably OK as the estate has an attorney, but the residential is more complicated.  How should I proceed with the residential probate in terms of recommending attorneys? Thank you

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