Nine months ago, a friend asked me to sell his family home, to which I gladly said “Yes.” The next door neighbor had expressed interest in purchasing the property. We drove to the property and the house was the same as it had been three years ago. The original furniture, books, dishes, and a Honda in the driveway that couldn’t start. We talked to the neighbor who said that he would be like to buy the home as-is. He was a contractor and wanted to fix the property up for his kids. I put a purchase agreement together, we agreed on a price and were officially in contract.
After reviewing the tax records initially, I thought the property belonged only to my friend. After further inspection, the record showed ET Al at the end of his name. We learned that his four sisters were on the title as well. Dealing with five siblings on a title is challenging enough, however, the catch was two of the sisters had passed away. One of the sisters died intestate which led the process to probate. The probate attorney said it would go much quicker if the assessor deemed the property value to be $250K. The appraiser did put a value of $250K, so we were able to claim real property of small value. If over $250,000, then it must go through the traditional process for probate.
The process should have taken two or three months, however, one sibling insisted on using her probate attorney and there were constant delays. After nine months, the property still had not closed. On New Year’s Eve, I received a text from the buyer showing the front and back yards flooded from the ongoing California storms. Luckily, the water did not enter the home, however, the buyers were concerned. The sump pump was in the basement and failed due to the electricity going out.
Today, I received a call from the buyer telling me they were backing out and moving to Arizona. It was heartbreaking for my seller who had invested so much time. We will wait until spring to clear out the house, let everything dry and give it a fresh coat of paint.
Now is a good time to review your financial assets and to see if you have beneficiaries set up, update your will or trust and to make sure that your assets are going to the right person or charitable organization. It is the best gift that you can give your heirs, so they don’t have to figure out the puzzle.