It’s common for people to feel sentimental about the family home, especially if they have fond memories of growing up there. However, it’s important to remember that the family home is just that—a house. It’s not an emotion or a memory. It’s a piece of property, and you have every right to sell it if you so choose.
Of course, selling the family home is not always a simple process. If your loved one did not leave a Will, you might need to go through the California probate process to transfer property ownership legally. Probate can be complicated and time-consuming, but fortunately, you don’t have to go through it alone. A California attorney can help you navigate the probate process and ensure that everything is handled correctly.
What is Probate?
Probate is the legal process of transferring property ownership after someone passes away. In California, this process generally takes between nine and twelve months. The first step is to file a petition with the court to open probate proceedings. Once the petition is filed, the court will appoint a personal representative—also known as an executor or administrator—to oversee the estate.
The personal representative will then be responsible for identifying and inventorying all of the assets in the estate, paying any debts and taxes owed by the deceased, and distributing any remaining assets to the heirs-at-law. Suppose there is real property—such as a house or land—involved in the estate. In that case, the personal representative will also be responsible for transferring ownership of that property according to the instructions in the Will (if there is one) or California law (if there is no Will).
Selling the Family Home Through Probate
If you’ve decided that you would like to sell the family home, your first step will be to contact a real estate agent and get an estimate of what the property is worth. Once you know what you can expect to get for the house, you can start making plans for what to do with that money.
If there are other heirs-at-law who also want to sell the property, you will need to agree with them regarding how to proceed. Once you have a plan in place, your next step will be to file a “Notice of Proposed Action” with the court. This notice must be filed at least 15 days before any action is taken on the property.
Once the notice has been filed, interested parties will have 15 days to object to your proposed plan for selling the property. If no objections are raised during that period, you can proceed with selling the property according to your plan. However, if someone does object to your proposed plan, you may need to go through mediation or litigation to resolve the issue.
Whether to sell a family home can be a difficult decision, but it’s important to remember that it’s just a house—it’s not an emotion or a memory. If you’ve inherited a family home and decide that you would like to sell it, your best bet is to hire an attorney who can help you navigate through California’s probate process. With an experienced attorney by your side, you can rest assured knowing everything will be handled correctly and efficiently—allowing you to move on with your life as soon as possible.
Call Jared Clemence at Coleman & Horowitt LLP if you live in Kern County and need help with the probate process.