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What is a Probate Real Estate Sale?

The state of California and the city of San Francisco have rules and regulations which determine the handling of a person’s real property after he or she passes away. The real property of the deceased, or decedent, then becomes part of a probate estate which is reviewed and distributed or sold accordingly.

If the decedent has not left this real property in a trust*, then typically a formal probate court process follows. A personal representative (executor or administrator) is named by either the decedent’s will or by a probate court; it is the personal representative’s responsibility to represent the probate estate through court processes and to keep track of all probate assets. This requires the grouping of assets, management of outstanding debts and liabilities, and distribution or sale of residual probate assets. Generally, the personal representative must attain permission from the court to sell the property(s) in question, after relatives and will beneficiaries (“interested parties”) have been informed of the court proceedings. The property must then be sold at a price at least worth 90% of the home’s appraisal value.

This 90% rule affects all probate sales except when the personal representative has applied for and been granted authority by the court under the Independent Administration of Estates Act (IAEA), in which case no court supervision is (generally) required. IAEA granted powers do not waive the personal representative’s obligation to notify interested parties of details from hearings or subsequent transactions.

*If the real property has been placed in a trust, the sale of the estate need not proceed through the probate court process.


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