Real estate inheritor jaded by probate fees

DEAR BOB: My dad died about six months ago. He was thesurviving joint-tenant owner of the house where he and my mother lived for 34years. She died in 1998. I am their only child. But my father did not leave awill. As I live about 600 miles away, I have no use for the house and want tosell it. However, a local probate attorney tells me that because there was nowill or a living trust, a probate court proceeding is required. He said thereis an expedited procedure, but it will take about six months, maybe longer. Hisfee, according to the state statute, will be about $6,400. This seems like awaste of time and money. Is this information correct? –Matt W.

DEAR MATT: Your dad died “intestate” without awritten will, so his estate must be probated according to the state law ofintestate succession where he resided. That requires notifying his possiblecreditors to file any claims, as well as checking to be sure there aren’t anyother relatives entitled to a possible inheritance.

Purchase Bob Bruss reports online.

Of course, this could have been avoided if your late fatherplaced his major assets, including title to the house, into a revocable livingtrust to avoid probate court costs and delays.

Before hiring that probate attorney, I suggest you politelyask if he can reduce his fee because this estate is so simple. Many probateattorneys will lower their fees if you ask. If he refuses, unless this is acomplicated estate, you might want to consult several other local probateattorneys to compare their fees.

IS AN APPRAISAL REQUIRED FOR EVERY HOME SALE?

DEAR BOB: Does every home sale require an appraisal? I planto pay cash –Mung L.

DEAR MUNG: If you are paying all cash for a home, and no newmortgage will be obtained, there is no need for a professional appraisal.However, if you will be obtaining a new mortgage to help pay for your home, themortgage lender will arrange for a professional appraisal.

HOW TO GET DEADBEAT CONDO OWNER TO PAY MONTHLY FEES

DEAR BOB: I own a condo in a small six-unit homeowner’sassociation. We all get along very well, except for one owner. She is kind of a”hippie” who is often gone for weeks and even months. Her monthlycondo assessment fee is $423 per month and it is now delinquent for 11 months.This is a big drain on our association’s budget. As the treasurer, I amwondering what we can do to collect this money? –Ken R.

DEAR KEN: You and your fellow condo owners have been patientfar too long with that owner who doesn’t pay her monthly fees.

I suggest you consult a local real estate attorney whospecializes in condominium law. It will be necessary to record a lien againstthe deadbeat’s condo title and then foreclose on that lien. The procedure issimilar to foreclosing on an unpaid mortgage. Of course, the attorney’s feesshould be added to the amount of the unpaid lien.

Starting the condo lien foreclosure procedure should bringpayment. However, if the situation results in a foreclosure sale of the condofor the unpaid lien amount, plus costs, that’s the owner’s problem.

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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