Asked in Probate and Real Estate Law for California

Q: Sell a deceased person's condo, with no will in California ($300,000). Brother and sister are only kin.

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5 Lawyer Answers
Bruce Adrian Last
Bruce Adrian Last
Answered
  • Probate Lawyer
  • Pleasant Hill, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: You question is a bit vague, but it sounds like your question is "Can we sell a decedent's condo, where there is no will and the brother and sister are the only kin."

In California, if a person dies and has no trust (a.k.a. a living trust), but owners property worth more than $150,000 (gross value regardless of liens, mortgages, and encumbrances) a probate is required. It does not depend if the person died with a will (testate) or without a will (intestate.)

A probate is required because without the court appointment of a representative there is no one with legal authority to transact business on behalf of a decedent's estate.

The result may be different if title to the property was held as joint tenants, or if there was a transfer on death deed.

I would consult with an attorney who can make sure that probate is required, and if so give you an overview of the process.

Patricia Ann Simmons agrees with this answer

Patricia Ann Simmons
Patricia Ann Simmons
Answered
  • Probate Lawyer
  • Vallejo, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: You should check the deed to determine if anyone else was on title to the condo with your father and, if so, how title was held with any other individual. In addition, if your father was married at the time of his death, this would also impact the probate process.

If your father was the sole owner and he died without a will, you will need to initiate probate proceedings, as the real property is over $150,000.00. Either you or your sister can petition the court and you can petition to be appointed co-administrators.

You cannot sell this property without going through probate, if your father is the sole owner of the real property. You should contact a probate attorney, to further advise you of the process, inform you of your rights and assist you in filing a petition for probate to begin the process.

Bill Sweeney
Bill Sweeney
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Probate Lawyer
  • San Juan Capistrano, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: If a California resident dies without a will or trust, they die "intestate" and the laws of intestate succession are used to determine who will inherit the estate. Determining the heirs involves answering a series of questions about the person who died. If the decedent was not married, the estate is distributed as follows:

1. To the decedent's children, who take in equal shares if they are in the same generation.

2. If there are no children or other issue (issue is the legal term for children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc.) living, the estate goes to the decedent's parents.

3. If there are no parents living, the estate is distributed to the "issue of the parents." If the decedent had brothers or sisters, they will inherit the estate. If there are deceased brothers and sisters, and they had issue, the issue will inherit the share of the estate that the deceased brother or sister would have inherited.

4. If there are no brothers or sisters, the decedent's grandparents will inherit the estate.

5. If there are no living grandparents, then the "issue of the grandparents" will inherit the estate. This could include the decedent's aunts and uncles, or if there aren't any aunts and uncles, the decedent's cousins. Generally, the oldest generation that has surviving issue will inherit, but if there are deceased issue in that generation, their issue will inherit their share.

Michael Ellis Freedman
Michael Ellis Freedman
Answered
  • Probate Lawyer
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Before you can sell the real property, you must probate the estate. The deceased person died intestate, I assume, and so the court must appoint an administrator of the estate, and Letters of Administration will issue. The Letters will give the administrator the authority to list and sell the real property. The sale may be by notice of proposed action, or by court confirmation of sale. The probate administration must conclude before the distribution of the assets of the estate to the heirs at law.

Ali Shahrestani, Esq.
Ali Shahrestani, Esq.
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Brooklyn, NY
  • Licensed in California

A: Are you an heir? Intestacy laws usually apply when there's no will. Is there a trust? Have you initiated Probate? See: http://www.courts.ca.gov/8865.htm

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