ANOTHER probate matter in CA - Posted by IB (NJ)

Posted by IB (NJ) on June 13, 2007 at 21:34:12:

  1. Hire a probate attorney experienced with probate recordingings in LA county.

Got it.


ANOTHER probate matter in CA - Posted by IB (NJ)

Posted by IB (NJ) on June 12, 2007 at 22:20:41:

Michaela’s post below prompted me to post my situation to you CA investors (especially Kristine) out there familiar with probate.

I’m looking at an abandoned property here in NJ that is owned by an estate where the decedent died while living in Los Angeles County, CA. I don’t think she had any children (but I’m checking on that), her parents are deceased, and I believe she was the only child. The only heirs that I can tell are some cousins and maybe some Aunts and Uncles.

My questions are:

  1. Who would likely be the next in line to inherit this property if she died intestate?
  2. How difficult would it be to probate her estate in CA while the asset is here in NJ. Would they order me to get an appraisal?
  3. If I do have to get an appraisal, can I still get the property signoficantly under market value?

Thanks in advance.


Here’s the Deal - Posted by Jimmy

Posted by Jimmy on June 13, 2007 at 07:07:25:

question: how is the property titled? you say it is “owned by an estate.” is it really? or is it titled in the name of a dead person who used to live in LA? if it is formally in the name of the estate, then your pathway is a lot easier. if not…

  1. the probate. someone needs to open a probate in Los Angeles County. then someone needs to open an ancillary probate in the New Jersey county where the property is located.

  2. the heirs/beneficiaries. if no will can be located, California has its intestate “pecking order.” 1. surviving spouse. 2. surviving children. 3. dead children leaving kids. 4. surviving parents 5. surviving siblings. then you get into cousins and aunts and uncles. and I’m not sure if a first cousin is “closer” than an aunt or uncle… my guess is the aunt or uncle is closer.

  3. appraisals. will depend on NJ law. probates are matters of public record, and appraisals “protect” estates and beneficiaries. If I was the atty representing this estate, there is no way you would steal the property. The PR has a duty to the estate and the heirs/beneficiaires, as does the atty.

Re: ANOTHER probate matter in CA - Posted by Kristine-CA

Posted by Kristine-CA on June 12, 2007 at 23:35:33:

First, are you sure can’t do the probate in the county where the
property is located? That makes more sense to me.

There is an order of heirs for intestate that is in the CA Civil code. I
can never remember the details past the first generation or so and end
up looking it up or asking my lawyer.

If you need to probate it here, an attorney does it all. Happens all the
time in my county. I just bought a property from heirs who never came
to CA and did most of it pro per and then hired an attorney to finish it

The appraisal doesn’t always need to be a concern. For example, if the
property has no debts to settle. Someone with letters of independent
administration from the court can sell for the price they determine
without court approval. An heir can sell for the price they determine
after the title transfers. The appraisal and whether it will affect a deal
is determined after looking at the whole picture in terms of heirs, value
of estate, debts, etc.

That being said, you could buy the interest for any price that works for
you and the heirs via an assignment, and then petition the probate
court to tranfer title to you as the assignee. Again, which way to do
this depends on all the details. Kristine

Re: Here’s the Deal - Posted by IB (NJ)

Posted by IB (NJ) on June 13, 2007 at 14:24:01:

Thanks Jimmy. The property is actually title in the name of a person who is deceased.

Also, I’m not looking to “steal” the property. However, I am looking for a good deal as I anticipate that this process will be as ugly and messy as the property itself. I plan to fully immerse myself into this muddy situation in order to come out with clean and marketable title that I can work with. The heirs will stand to make a substantial amount of money as well.

Thanks again.


Re: Here’s the Deal - Posted by Kristine-CA

Posted by Kristine-CA on June 13, 2007 at 12:07:05:

My guess is that you never were hired by anyone but heirs or creditors.
If I come to you as the assignee of all the beneficiaries and/or as the
newly elected administrator, you would have no control over the price I
paid to obtain my interest. Correct? Or would you refuse to represent

I’ve met SO many probate attorneys who understand little about
contract law and real estate. But I know you know better. :slight_smile:

This is just a suggestion, but you might want to try wearing both hats
at the same time. My guess is that your probate practice was mid to
high-end. I know your real estate activities currently are on the low-
end. My experience is that there are distressed heirs in the entire
value range of estates and distressed sellers in all value ranges of
property. This has been my personal investing experience and my
friends and family’s experience as well.

You have way more legal knowledge and skills than I will probably ever
have in both areas but from your comments on this board you don’t
seem to be interested in combining them. How come? Kristine

Re: ANOTHER probate matter in CA - Posted by IB (NJ)

Posted by IB (NJ) on June 13, 2007 at 14:30:57:

Hi Kristine and thanks for your comments.

To my knowledge and based on my experience (having purchased several properties in probate and dealt with two properties where the decedent died as a resident of another state), the estate will have to be probated in CA where the decedent last lived. If I could do it here, believe me I will (will double check my entire plan for acquiring this property with my attorney before I officially get started).

I’ll also contact the LA County Surrogate to see how realistic it will be to do some of this ourselves before we hand the rest over to an attorney. Have you ever probated anything in LA county? Your experience with their process? Thanks.


Its about Fiduciary Liability - Posted by Jimmy

Posted by Jimmy on June 14, 2007 at 06:20:33:

I have represented PR’s and beneficiaries (and lots of trustees). The benis can make any deal they want. never suggested otherwise. but the PR has a duty to protect the estate assets. and the PR’s atty has a duty to protect the PR, and keep the PR out of trouble. selling an estate asset for less than FMV is a direct violation of this duty.

if the PR is the only beneficiary (which happens fairly often) then noone will care if she sells an estate asset for less than FMV.

but if the PR is not the only beni, the atty and the PR are exposed to liability for selling an asset below the value established on the estate inventory. I will not allow the deal to happen. I don’t want my PR to get sued. and I don’t want to get sued. (and I HAVE been sued in my capacity as estate atty. all it takes is a family civil war to erupt, and its gets messy. and everyone gets splattered with sh!t. in my case, I got nailed for allowing a trustee to take an action that benefitted her more than her siblings. even though it was consistent with the plan established by her parents. her duty was to her trust. my duty was to her. by allowing her to take an action that was not in the best interests of the trust and allof its beneficiaries, she got nailed. and then she nailed me.

I am not making this up. fiduciary liability is absolutely real. one of the fastest growing areas in the litigation world.

Thinking outside of the coffin - Posted by Rick, the Probate Guy

Posted by Rick, the Probate Guy on June 13, 2007 at 22:43:56:

I agree with the plan to file a CA probate if this was the decedent’s residence. Ditto on the ancillary NJ probate, too.

The rules concerning order of inheritance here are termed laws of consanguinity. I’d be happy to give you a copy of my chart if you email me privately.

The laws concerning the priority of order of appointment are codified in the probate code, as well.

If you have (or can purchase) a secured (or even an unsecured) creditor position and/or claim, there’s a spot for you to become appointed administrator based on that position, per the code.

Marry these concepts together and you have a first rate back-door entry strategy to work this deal. And, yes, I have done this before with much success.

Re: ANOTHER probate matter in CA - Posted by Kristine-CA

Posted by Kristine-CA on June 13, 2007 at 14:55:11:

If the person really lived in LA, then I think you will have to do both
locations in the end. I’m happy to say that I’ve never had to do one in
LA county. One of the reasons I don’t work in LA county is that the
county recorder data and court data is much more difficult to obtain.
The grantor/grantee index is not online. The court records info is often
inaccurate and not up to date. It’s a big county and they have a ways
to go to get up to speed.

I don’t suggest that you do any of the process yourself. It will be an
endless series of returned documents for checking the wrong box or
submitting a check for the wrong amount. I mean endless. That being
said, I follow a lot of probates and many attorneys make as many
mistakes as the pro per people. Many times they are not probate
attorneys…big, big mistake for the people who hired them.

I don’t do anything pro per. I rarely record a document that I prepare
myself. Way too many things that can go wrong that are difficult to fix.
And believe me I learned that one the hard way. Best of success to you
this one. Kristine

Re: Its about Fiduciary Liability - Posted by Kristine-CA

Posted by Kristine-CA on June 14, 2007 at 10:36:19:

Jimmy: thanks for your reply. I am well aware of the fiduciary liability
issues you speak of. That wasn’t really my question.

The point I was trying to make is that there are ways to work a probate
deal that remove or lesson some of the issues you speak of, specifically
the need for you or the PR to protect the assets. For example, if I buy
up all the interest in an intestate situation then I am the sole bene and
I become in line for transfer of title and/or administering the estate.
I’ve done it successfully and with good profits. Obviously, when
purchasing interest that’s not yet probated, there is a discount
involved. The heirs know this and accept this or no deal. If they have
the time and money and tools to deal with a probate, they do. If not,
they walk from a property and that’s where deals can be made.

In your farm area there are properties that you could buy from heirs
today. They would be thrilled to sell. I work with heirs who have been
holding for 30 years or more because they believe they cannot sell due
to probate issues. I find heirs who walked years ago and they don’t
even believe they have anything sell.

It would be easy for you because you have the experience to analyze
the estate and heir situatiuon. Also, Texas has some easier ways to
tranfer title in some cases, such as affidavits of heirship.

I would never suggest that you do anything but protect heirs and
assets as an attorney–that’s the job as required by law, and the
service of probate attorneys. But purchasing interests in estates is an
entirely different animal that I’m guessing from your comments here
that you are overlooking as source of good deals. Kristine

Two Kinds of Lawyers - Posted by Jimmy

Posted by Jimmy on June 14, 2007 at 09:59:22:

there are 2 kinds of lawyers in the estate/trust/fiduciary world:

a. the ones who have been sued
b. the ones who have not been sued

the A group is a lot more sensitive to conflicts, breaches of duty, self-dealing, and many other scenarios which get a client or lawyer sued. the A group is more careful.

The B Group is a lot less sensitive to the issues, because they have never had a front row seat at the horror flick.

Lawyers in mid-to-large size firms are a lot better at staying out of trouble. They have systems in place to avoid trouble. every prospective client is run through a conflict check. multiple levels of review can head off trouble. young associates are supervised by more experienced associates, who are supervised by partners. each department has a committee of senior partners who supervise and lead that department, review the work of the department, etc. and a management committee of senior partners which supervises and oversees the entire firm operation. Law firms understand those situations and circumstances from which liability can arise. They think about it constantly.

small firms and solos are the ones who more often step on landmines. until you’ve been exposed to issues of atty and fiduciary liability, you won’t appreciate it.

'nuf said