Yes, a house can be sold in probate.
The simple answer to this question is yes; a house can be sold while in probate. Real estate is typically the largest asset within the estate and experience shows that most Executors and Administrators choose to sell the house during the probate period.
Since a California probate on average lasts over a year, in my opinion, it is best to sell the probate house simultaneously with the open probate proceedings with the Probate Court. Why?
- Because many homes in probate have traditional or reverse mortgages, a mortgage payment is only one of the carrying costs for the estate. You have utilities, property taxes, and property insurance, landscape maintenance, perhaps homeowner insurance and even Mello-Roos fees. Month after month, these expenses can eat away at the estate proceeds.
- Another issue to consider is the responsibility and liability of the real estate. Things happen, thankfully we don’t experience freezing pipes, but we do occasionally have water leaks from plumbing or a heavy rain, properties can be broken into and damaged or even worse occupied by vagrants.
These are some important things to consider and talk over with your attorney, tax advisor and real estate advisor.
Another thing to be aware of is the importance of keeping the property insurance in force. When insurance companies become aware that the probate house is vacant they will want vacant house insurance. As you can imagine insurance companies do not like insuring vacant houses. Because they don’t like it, this type of insurance can cost twice as much as typical property insurance. Most of my clients manage to keep the decedent’s property insurance in place, but it is a big surprise for those who need to pay for vacant house insurance until the property is sold.
Now the great news is that once the decedent’s house is sold, relieving you of the responsibility, the proceeds are placed in an estate savings account until the probate is completed. Then the assets are distributed to the beneficiaries.
For answers to your questions about your exact circumstances and what your next best step with the probate, call me at 760-912-8905. It’s important that you get the facts so that you can make an information decision. I’m Charlotte Volsch, my team and I have helped other Executors and Administrators in your exact circumstances, dealing with a house in a probate. I’m here to help.