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:
For some time now I have advised clients to contact their mortgage holder to see about linking their trust to their mortgage. Without that you can leave your trustee with a problem. The house might be owned by the trust but the mortgage is not connected to the trust. When that happens the trustee can have a very difficult (if not impossible) time getting information about the mortgage. This is a great service that Bank of America is offering and I encourage you to see if your mortgage bank has similar. The only downside is that they are charging $100 to process the form. Here’s that form:
Borrower Trust Information and Certification Form
Name of Trust:
Date of Trust:
Beneficiaries during Grantor’s Lifetime:
Term of Trust:
Occupants of a
“My husband died and the mortgage company won’t talk to me.”
This is becoming a common statement that I hear. Mortgages and the actual deed to real estate are NOT connected. They are separate. So, for example, if a spouse dies with a house in their name the other spouse can often use a “spousal property petition” to transfer assets to themselves without going through a full probate. However, the mortgage, or encumbrance against the property, does not transfer with the “deed” or title.
Say it isn’t so Mr. California Probate Lawyer!
Plus, mortgage companies are making it more and more difficult to communicate with them after death. Sure I have known of people who have pretended to be the decedent and that can last for years but eventually that will s