How to Deal with Probate and Estate Sales
in Silicon Valley
Helpful Tips for Families and Heirs
Most individuals have to deal with family conflict at one point of another in their life. Family conflicts arise typically as a result of a divorce or the death of loved ones. Real estate properties are among the cherished prizes of these disputes given the amounts at stake, especially in Silicon Valley. Handling an estate or a probate sale is a lengthy process and can crystallize conflicts within families even more, therefore it is essential for all parties involved to work together and partner closely with their real estate agent.
Today, disputes are solved via litigation, mediation or collaborative practice. Here is a bit of information on each option:
Option 1: Litigation
Civil litigation typically involves a defendant facing off against a plaintiff before either a judge and/or jury. The judge or the jury is responsible for weighing the evidence and mak¬ing a ruling. Information conveyed in hearings and trials usually enters the pub¬lic records. Lawyers typically dominate litigation, which often ends in a settlement agreement during a lengthy, costly period of discovery and preparation.
Option 2: Mediation
Mediation is a process in which a neutral party (aka the Mediator) facilitates communication between the disputants to assist them in reaching a mutually acceptable agreement. The role of the mediator(s) is limited to leading and assisting the participants during the negotiations. The mediator(s) have no decision making power. The decision to mediate and to settle can only be made by a mutual agreement by the participants. Contrary to a court of law, there is no need to hire an attorney and mediation is voluntary and confidential. As a result, it is less expensive and less time consuming.
Option 3: Collaborative Practice
Collaborative Practice is a pledge not to go to court. Here again, rather than turning the decision-making power over to a judge, control of the collaborative solution is kept with the people directly involved in the dispute. Clients and their attorneys are at the heart of a collaborative team which often includes mental health, financial and other professionals as needed to provide information and help clients explore a variety of solutions. The clients don`t sign an agreement until each of them is comfortable with it.
As a Mediator in Silicon Valley, I thought I would share with you some of the key mistakes to avoid when selling a property when you are faced with a divorce or in a probate situation.
It is essential for anyone faced with such challenges to work with a real estate agent who understands the complexities of selling a property under these very specific circumstances and helps manage issues that are often time left aside. Here are the 5 things that I remind my clients of before starting the process
1. Agreeing on a realistic list price: Because the parties are in need of money does not mean that the listing price of the property should be the grand total of the money each party need to get out of the proceeds of the sale. If you do so, the property will stay on the market and will most likely end up selling for less than its fair market value.
2. The “looking good” necessity: Whatever personal drama the parties are going through this should not reflect on the condition of the property. The minimum every home buyer will expect from you is a clean and de-cluttered house inside and out.
3. The “nobody knows” rule: Make sure your listing agent never disclosed why the property is on sale, especially in divorce cases, to avoid receiving low ball offers as buyers will assume that you are in financial mayhem and need money ASAP.
4. The homeowner’s insurance policy: just because two people are married and are on the deed doesn’t mean they’re both named as insured parties on the home. If one of the spouses is listed only as the beneficiary and remains in the home, he or she will not be covered after the divorce is finalized. Same for a probate situation where the heirs must maintain the home insurance on the property until it is sold.
5. The mortgage payments: If no agreement is made regarding the payment of the mortgage, remember that you may lose your home in a short sale.