Life is unpredictable. Don’t you agree? Everything around us seems to be moving so quickly including the decisions we make. You have worked so hard to save your pennies and your preferred lender calls you to share you have been pre-approved to purchase your first home.

After jumping up and down and hopping on your laptop to search for your dream home, the last thing you are thinking about is dying. Forgive me, was that statement too shocking? I am hopeful that it took your breath away because it was meant to. When doing adult business like purchasing a home, it is time to do just that: Adult Up! Before I go any further, this will be the first of several times through this article to share, I am not an attorney or an accountant.

It is closing day and you have been given your keys to your first home by your awesome Realtor. You are so organized and super meticulous that you already had your friends and their trucks ready to move you from your rental to your new home.

Fast forward a year where you have painted, decorated, landscaped the yards, and truly made this a beautiful home that is yours and yours alone. Tragically, you are coming home from work, it is raining, and you got into a terrible accident that you did not survive. Your loved ones are devastated by your loss. The task of selling your home is now discussed and knowing that you always kept your affairs in order was anticipated. Unfortunately, your home was not in a trust, and you were the only one on title. What happens next? Probate.

Probate is a court proceeding that administers the estate of an individual. But wait, among the documents in the filing cabinet there was a Will. A will does not negate probate. A will however does need to be submitted to the court. Unfortunately, now your grieving period has turned into a research period of navigating the probate process and trying to figure out how this legal process can be paid for.

The fees for probate and estate administration can vary widely depending on who does it, whether that be a solicitor, probate specialists or a bank. The cost for these range between 2.5% to 5% of the value of the estate. Please consult a knowledgeable Probate attorney.

Bottom Line:

First and foremost, I am not an attorney or an accountant. Kindly consult with your professional advisors. Please take a moment and check the following regarding the home you own: Is there only one person on title? Is the home in a trust? Once you get your affairs truly in order, please consider sharing this information with your friends and family. You know those items that you want to put in place to sleep better at night? Avoiding Probate and completing the appropriate documentation should be one of your top tasks to complete. Allowing your family and friends to grieve your loss at your passing instead of navigating unchartered territory and financial burdens, truly is the biggest gift you could leave. Wishing you good health always and a long life.

• Donna A. Baker is the Broker-Owner of At Home Real Estate Group in Tracy, selling real estate for 21 years. Her memberships include National Association of Realtors, California Association of Realtors, Certified Residential Specialists, Central Valley Association of Realtors, Accredited Buyer’s Representative, Certified Distressed Property Expert®, and Short Sales and Foreclosure Resource.

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