A Needle in a Haystack – Fiduciary Broker Vlog #3

Hi, I’m Dan Collins – a Sacramento, California licensed real estate broker with expertise in real property matters involving Probates and Trusts. I am also a California licensed general contractor and court appointed receiver for the Superior Court.  If you have found yourself tasked with being an Executor administering a Probate or a Trustee of a Trust estate, I can help you effectively execute your duties that attorneys do not help you with. To learn more, please visit my website: probate-realtor.biz

I’m calling today’s program “A Needle In A Haystack” because I want to draw your attention to the need for Probate Administrators & Trustees to search for important documents amongst a loved one’s personal effects when they become incapacitated or, upon death.

I was recently reading the editorial in Sacramento Magazine entitled “The Stuff of Life.”  The editor, Kristina Minard, shared a story that involved two generations of family members passing away and searching for important documents and dealing with the daunting task of removing their personal effects from their homes. It started with her husband’s parents. The story told how a week after her father-in-law died her husband and his brothers cleaned out his garage. She described a Grapes of Wrath worthy pile of junk in the truck being hauled to the dump.  But not everything went, her husband kept a compressor and some hand tools that came to live in her garage.

When her mother-in-law, who had dementia, was placed in an assisted living facility, she and her husband’s family emptied the house so it could be rented; which is a good way to offset costs of her mother-in-law’s assistance with her daily living requirements as well as a good strategy to not incur an avoidable taxable event if they sold the house before her mother-in-law died. She commented on the fact she does not remember what happened to all the furniture, housewares and music boxes of photos – she thinks her brother-in-law dealt with all that – but she knew what happened with all the boxes of paperwork from the back bedroom — they ended up in her garage.

She described weeks of painstakingly culling through the boxes of “nicotine-fumed sheaths” of paperwork looking for important documents – the figurative ‘needle in a haystack’. Just as she was tiring of the process and contemplating taking everything straight to a shredding service she discovered – between a retail store receipt and a financial statement from 1974 – the pink slip to the vehicle sitting in her mother-in-law’s driveway that they wanted to sell.

Then, her sister’s husband died. She described how her sister spent more than a year carefully tackling what to keep, what to donate or scrap. Her sister scoured the closets, the spare bedroom, the garage, and the man cave under the house looking for important documents and sentimental items before she jettisoned the rest of the personal property.

The comparative description of time spent on pre-estate administration of a spouse passing away, versus estate administration upon the passing of the last surviving spouse is very telling and quite common: Daughters and sons who accept duties to act as probate administrator’s or trustees have busy lives with families, careers and obligations just like we all do. And, they often find they do not have the time necessary to thoroughly search, locate and assemble probate or trust assets, pay all taxes and legitimate debts, to protect the residue, and to distribute it to the beneficiaries designated in the will. If you believe the probate or trust attorney will do all those things, you will be disappointed to learn they do not.

I have in depth experience in dealing with the “nuts and bolts” fiduciary duties and obligations of an executor of a probate, or acting as a trustee for a trust in administering an estate. I have personally acted and continue to act in the capacity of personal representative of probate estates and trustee for trusts involving estates and special needs trusts.

If the estate you have been charged with administering is in any way complicated, you have the right to hire an array of experts to help you – probate/trust lawyers, appraisers, bookkeepers and accountants, real estate brokers and financial consultants – and to pay their fees from estate funds. If you realize your time is limited and you require the assistance of someone with an orderly mind, life experience, and an understanding of fiduciary duty I can help you.

My name is Dan Collins, I act as a “fiduciary broker” in probates and trusts that involve real property assets.  To learn more, please visit my website: probte-realtor.biz

Thank you for joining me today.

Nobody’s Home – Fiduciary Broker Vlog #2

Keeping Vacant Homes Properly Insured in a Probate or Trust Estate.

Hi, I’m Dan Collins – a Sacramento, California licensed real estate broker with expertise in real property matters involving Probates and Trusts. I am also a California licensed general contractor and court appointed receiver for the Superior Court. If you have found yourself tasked with being an Executor administering a Probate or a Trustee of a Trust estate, I can help you effectively execute your duties that attorneys do not help you with. To learn more, please visit my website: probate-realtor.biz
The title of today’s video is “Nobody’s Home” because our subject is about insuring real property in an estate when the property is vacant. Properly insuring a vacant home or income property is the one of riskiest areas of fiduciary responsibility where an estate Executor of Probate or a trustee of a Trust has fiduciary liability. If you serve as a Probate Administrator/Trustee you have a fiduciary duty to properly insure that high value asset – real property.
Your insurance carrier for the home or building that is vacant must be told within 30-days of a property becoming vacant that it is not occupied, or you risk not having otherwise insurable losses covered if you submit a claim. A phone call to your insurance agent informing them the property is or will be vacant is all that is required.
Is it more expensive to insure a home that’s vacant? Actually, yes, it can be because fire, vandalism and, burglaries, among other bad things, are more likely to happen when nobody’s home. If no one lives in the property and a water pipe breaks it may be days or longer before it is discovered. Whereas, if a pipe breaks in a property that is occupied it may be hours before it is discovered but it will usually be discovered quickly.
So, remember, if a home or an income property is vacant, you must have proper insurance coverage in place. It is critical to inform the insurance carrier that the home or income property is vacant. That includes a vacancy between tenants for income properties.
I recently served as a Fiduciary Broker in an Estate that included a vacant single-family home in San Francisco where the decedent had lived. The Trustee hired me in my capacity as a Fiduciary Broker to market the property for sale and to assist her in properly covering all the necessary matters of responsibility required from a person who administers an estate. The first piece of advice I gave the new Trustee was to call the insurance broker to inform him or her that the home was vacant. The Trustee looked through all the files in the home and she could not find any evidence in the decedents records that the property was insured. In fact, it turned out the property was not insured at all!
Believe it or not, this is not uncommon. The decedent had no mortgage on the property. She had owned it free & clear of debt. Retired people often own their homes outright, free of debt. And, it is not uncommon that over time insurance policies may lapse and older people forget to replace insurance policies to protect their homes. I had the property appraised which is a good idea for many reasons when administering an estate, and its value exceeded $1.5M. If there had been a catastrophic loss such as a fire and the home burned down, there would have been no insurance policy in place to replace that valuable asset.
I made certain the new insurance policy covered the home as a vacant structure because if that information had not been provided to the insurance broker the new insurance policy would not have covered the home if it burned down.
My name is Dan Collins, I act as a “fiduciary broker” in probates and trusts that involve real property assets. To learn more, please visit my website: probate-realtor.biz
Thank you for joining me today.