Homeowner’s death highlights value of living trust

DEAR BOB: My aunt recently passed away suddenly. She owned ahouse and a small bank account. We were supposed to open a living trust forher, but never got around to it. Of course, now it’s too late. She didn’t haveany children, but is survived by two sisters and one brother. She alwaysindicated the house would go to one of the sisters who didn’t own a home. Butthere was no will. My aunt’s name was the only name on the deed. I figure wehave to go into that nasty Probate Court you often discuss. What are the stepsto proceed? –Colin F.

DEAR COLIN: I am sorry to learn of that sad situation.Because your aunt died without a will, she died “intestate.” Thatmeans the state law where she was a resident determines who will inherit herassets, including the house she wanted to go to that sister.

Purchase Bob Bruss reports online.

Unfortunately, unless the other heirs agree the house shouldgo to the sister, if the three siblings are the closest surviving relatives,they will probably inherit the estate equally under the state law of intestatesuccession.

Whoever wants to be appointed the estate administrator bythe local probate court where your aunt lived should contact a probate attorneyin that town to start the proceedings. Unless your aunt left a very smallestate that is exempt from probate, the court proceedings will cost money anddelay distribution of the estate. Of course, a living trust would have avoidedsuch costs and delays.

WITH POOR CREDIT, IS IT POSSIBLE TO BUY A HOME?

DEAR BOB: Thanks for your recent information about buying ahome for nothing down. However, is it possible to buy a home for nothing downwith poor credit? –Brian W.

DEAR BRIAN: If you have a job with steady income, youprobably can obtain a “subprime loan.” But the interest rate will behigh, currently 9 percent or higher in today’s money market.

But maybe your credit isn’t so bad. To check your FICO (FairIsaac Corp.) score, go to www.myfico.com.After correcting any credit report errors, then shop for mortgage approvalbefore shopping for a home.

Major mortgage lenders such as Wells Fargo offer subprimehome loans, as do many independent “no name” lenders who originatemortgages primarily through local mortgage brokers.

CAN PROPERTY BE REZONED OUT OF USE?

DEAR BOB: I have been in the real estate business more than50 years. How can one group rezone a business or residence out of use and then sayit is a “non-conforming use?” Is there any type of homeowner’sinsurance policy that has coverage for such a loss? –Dick B.

DEAR DICK: There is no vested right to the current zoningfor a property. Properties are rezoned every day by city councils and countyofficials as demands for various uses change. Homeowner’s insurance does notoffer zoning change coverage.

However, before a property can be rezoned there must bepublic hearings.

Current property uses are usually “grandfathered,”either permanently or for a number of years. However, if more than 50 percentof such a non-conforming use property is damaged or destroyed, such as by afire, the building usually cannot be rebuilt and it must conform to the newzoning. For full details, please consult a local real estate attorney.

The new Robert Bruss special report, “Pros and Cons ofToday’s Five Best Real Estate Profit Opportunities,” is now available for$5 from Robert Bruss, 251 Park Road, Burlingame, CA 94010 or by credit card at1-800-736-1736 or instant Internet delivery at www.BobBruss.com. Questions for this columnare welcome at either address.

(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his
Real Estate Center
).

Copyright 2006 Inman News

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