Monday, June 08, 2015

What happens if either a buyer or seller passes away during an escrow?

This is one of the strangest sales I've ever been involved in. Names and address withheld here.  Recently, I represented a buyer couple with an off-market sale in Laurel Canyon.  They wished to buy their neighbor's house. The actual seller was the neighbor's mother and the family lives in Utah.  The seller family hates Realtors (o what a surprise) and they represented themselves in the deal.  That is never easy and working with the sellers was like trying to pull a mule up a ladder.

It took a long time to get the property in escrow, but the buyers really wanted to purchase it.  In the middle of the escrow, the seller passed away.  Without a will or a trust.  Which means probate court in both California and Utah to properly dispose of the seller's assets, including this house.

What happens with a property transaction when a party to the sale passes away? It stops the escrow, and often ends it.  Things didn't look good here -- I thought it would be hard to get the whole seller family to agree on anything having to do with the disposition of the assets.  That's what the probate process is for. But my buyers were determined.  They found a California probate attorney that claimed to be able to get the probate done in 60 days (it can sometimes take 6 months).  And they helped the Utah folks find an attorney in that state.  It's a much quicker process in Utah.

Anyway, surprise! The property went through probate in two months, the sale was back on, and it closed last week. Kudos to my buyers for their very hard work and perseverance.  Where there's a will, there's a way, no pun intended.

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