July 2024 Newsblog

(Real questions sent to us – verbatim!)

(Phone call in Chinese) 

Caller – I want to sell my mother’s condo. She passed away in China. Can you tell me what I need to do first?

Me – Did she own the property by herself or with someone else?

Caller – She owned it by herself.

Me – Oh dear.

Here is my answer in a nutshell – If the owner passed away and the ownership was not held with another person as “Joint Tenants”, which automatically includes rights of survivorship, then to sell the property you first have to go through Probate. The type of Probate and how long it would take would depend on whether the person left a Will (dying Testate) or without a Will (dying Intestate).

The first step is finding a Probate Attorney. Escrow cannot practice law so unfortunately, that’s the only answer I can give you.

If you own a property by yourself, you need to think about what happens if you should suddenly pass away. Many of us don’t think that anything can happen to us, especially when we are young, and delay doing some type of financial planning of our assets. But death can catch us unawares. As I told my client, I, and all of my escrow peers, are not able to give financial counsel, but we can tell you what we have seen and hope that this message will get transmitted to you and the general public before it becomes too late. Here is what you can/should do and in order to weigh each alternative, consult your legal and financial counsel.

  1. At least, add another person to the ownership so that you own it as Joint Tenants – so that they can take over without going through Probate. Maybe a family member?
  2. If not #1, then set up your Will and specify who you will leave the property to and who will act as Administrator of your Will so that when you go through Probate, it will be easier and faster.
  3. Best course of action – set up your own Living Trust with Successor Trustees to provide continuity. No Probate and which should normally include a Will.

One of my Escrow Officers had 2 transactions owned by 3 individuals each who had 1/3rd interest as “Tenants In Common”. Tenants in Common does not provide for “rights of survivorship”. The surviving individuals received proceeds to their own ⅓ interests at close escrow. The person who died did not make arrangements or a Will and he died “Intestate”. His 1/3rd interest went through the Probate and it took over 2 years, a lot of processing and posting of bonds before the Court was able to finalize the Estate and determine who got the interest of the deceased person, of course, minus all the probate fees.

Let that be a lesson to all. 


~ Video of the Month ~

And on to more cheery things, 
Crazy (and weirdly fascinating) hand art that must be appreciated!


~ Quote of the Month ~

To my 76 year old husband, the biggest purveyor of health books that I know:
Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.”

~ Mark Twain ~



My YouTube Offering for the Month 

FIRPTA – A subject generating a lot of questions – commonly asked Q&A


You Have Questions? We Have Answers!

“Escrow is my FOREMOST language!”

Advance Disclosure:
The opinions expressed in this blog are solely the author’s. 
Your comments and viewpoints are always welcome.
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