Wine Country Fire Issues with Trust Litigation Attorney Michael Hackard

Fiduciary Broker Vlog | Podcast with Michael Hackard

Today I’m interviewing trust litigation attorney Michael Hackard, where we discuss the fires in the Sonoma and Napa Counties, what to do if you’ve lost your will, and much more. Please enjoy this episode!

Down to the Basics – Fiduciary Broker Vlog #8

 

Fiduciary Broker Vlog Episode 8 | Down to the Basics

What exactly is Probate and what exactly is an Executor or an Administrator of a Probate? What are the obligations of person responsible to discharge a probate?

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 I act as court appointed receiver administrator for the Superior Court.  If you have found yourself tasked with being an Executor administering a Probate or a Trustee in an 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

Today I want to get down to the basics and answer some of the most common, but not necessarily simple, questions that I get asked about. What is probate?  What does an Executor or an Administrator of Probate do?

Probate starts at the end – namely the end of someone’s life.  The first order of business is when a family reads the will, and the named Executor in the will needs to file Probate with the local court.

If a person dies without a will the court will appoint an Administrator for the estate. Depending on the jurisdiction the court may be involved, and an attorney may be required for each step of the process.

Administering Probates comes with real liabilities and it is both reasonable and recommended that the person who is tasked with administering the estate to hire probe qualified legal counsel that can be paid from the estate.

The Executor, or Administrator, is responsible to produce specific documents. These required documents include a death certificate, list of assets, list of liabilities and a list of heirs.  All of these must be produced and submitted to the court.

A detailed list of Liabilities, Administration costs, and taxes must also be collected before distribution by the executor who administers the probate. The court will provide instructions to the Executor to help guide them through how and when to distribute assets to the heirs.

Most family members will likely deal with a probate situation at least once in their lives. To put some perspective on probates, let me share a few facts with you:

  1. Less than 5% of Americans avoid probate using a revocable trust or other method, so that leaves 95% of estates to be probated. 2,467,143 estates were subject to probate in 2013, which is the most recent numbers available.
  2. The average US inheritance is $176,814.
  3. That’s $436 Billion worth of estates Probated in 2013 alone!
  4. 78.8% of people 65 and older own real estate.
  5. That’s 1,973,714 properties that transfer through probate annually.
  6. 67% of real estate in Probate is owned free and clear.
  7. That’s roughly 1.3 million properties with no debt.

It is vitally important to deal with competent people to assist you in administering probate if you are called upon to serve as a probate executor or an administrator.  In some of my next videos, I’ll share with you some of the common pitfalls that executors and administrators encounter – and especially how to avoid them!

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.

Worst Case Scenario!! – Fiduciary Broker Vlog #7

Fiduciary Broker Vlog Episode 7 | Worst Case Scenario

How is an estate Administrator to deal with a Probate involving catastrophic loss?

Hi, I’m Dan Collins – a California licensed real estate broker serving Napa and Sonoma Counties with expertise in real property matters involving Probates and Trusts. I am also a California licensed general contractor.  If you have found yourself tasked with being an Executor administering a Probate that has been involved in a catastrophic loss event, 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

Today’s video is called “Worst Case Scenario”.  What do you do if you find yourself as a Probate personal representative when the estate has incurred a catastrophic loss?  And, what to do when the catastrophic event also results in the deceased’s last will being lost?  I was inspired to address this topic of estates involved in catastrophic loss events from last month’s wine country fires in Napa and Sonoma counties that destroyed over 8,400 structures and reportedly killed 42 people.

If you have been named as a personal Representative of a Probate for a deceased’s estate from the California wine country which suffered a catastrophic loss; whether that person died just before, during or, as a victim of the fire, you have a far more complex task than would occur in administering an estate where the assets were undamaged and the last will was intact and available to file with the Court.

Missing wills raise all sorts of interesting legal issues which often turn on the specific facts and circumstances. If a will was lost in a wildfire, the Personal Representative may have the option of submitting a photo or scanned copy of a will to be admitted for probate.  What happens if there is no photo or scanned copy?  If the only copies were destroyed in a fire?

Those questions are matters of law, and I am not an attorney.  But I will be interviewing attorney Mike Hackard of Hackard Law this week to discuss the subject of lost wills in the 2017 wine country wildfires, so we can explore the practical and legal details in greater depth.

Generally, the insurance on your residence will pay toward repairing or replacing your home in case of damage from a covered peril such as fire. The contents of your house should also be covered in case of damage or loss from fire. However, some perils may not be covered. For example, flood damage may not be covered if your house is in a floodplain. But fire is generally a covered loss.

Even if a catastrophic loss is covered, that doesn’t mean that becoming whole again will be simple or easy.  As a California licensed general contractor, I am conversant about the potential challenges of processing insured loss claims when there are catastrophic events. The reason is because I was involved in construction projects after both the 1989 Loma Prieto earthquake and the Oakland fire storm of 1991. Based on my experience, what is likely to happen in Napa and Sonoma is that the demand for construction materials and labor to  replace over 8,000 structures in such a small geographic area will surely result in inflated costs.  And that means Personal Representatives who are charged with administering a probate in the affected areas of Napa and Sonoma wine country will likely be at a great disadvantage.  (As an aside, that is especially true if they do not reside near the county where they are tasked with administering the probate.)  If a Representative or Administrator is not knowledgeable in the areas of law, insurance or construction, the chances of receiving equitable treatment are very low.  I would not advise going down this road alone.  You will need qualified and expert assistance.

There are a lot of nuances to the law and quite a lot to unpack here.  If you want to know more about what to do in a worst-case scenario when you’re the administrator of an estate involving a catastrophic loss, please join me in this week’s podcast with trust litigator Mike Hackard of Hackard Law where we will discuss in great detail the areas of equitable treatment for estate administrators in the affected areas of the Napa and Sonoma wine country wildfires.

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

How Receivership can Protect Values in Matters of Trust & Probate – Fiduciary Broker Vlog #6

Fiduciary Broker Vlog Episode 6 | How Receivership can Protect Values in Matters of Trust & Probate

Hi, I’m Dan Collins – a California licensed real estate broker with expertise in real property matters in Probates and Trusts. I am also a California licensed general contractor and receivership expert.  To learn more about receiverships protecting values, please visit my website: probate-realtor.biz

I want to tell you about how receivers can be useful in difficult trust or probate cases.

Family relationships can sometimes create toxic environments, especially amongst siblings who are beneficiaries to a Trust or Probate.  Let’s be truthful here; being asked to act as a Trustee or to administrator probate is a thankless duty that comes with real exposure to risk and liabilities.

In a family dynamic, it is usually the most responsible sibling who is appointed to act and administer a Trust or Probate after a loved one has died.

Usually the person who has stepped up to act as the Probate administrator or, a Trustee, has a family and a job with a full life and not enough hours in a day or week to accomplish everything they need and want in their life. Add to that life situation the burden of being an executor of an estate and you have a recipe for a lot additional stress.

Attorney Mike Hackard of Hackard Law and I have seen these dynamics countless times; stress can cause people to act in ways that are not becoming. In some people, stress can cause a person to become aggressive or emotionally unstable, which can lead to poor decision making.

Beneficiaries do not have a position of strength or leverage when that occurs with the person who is responsible to protect assets for their benefit.  Sometimes they feel they need to seek legal counsel if they suspect the Trustee or Executor is not acting in accordance to trust and, or, the last will and testament of a decedent, especially where legacy assets are involved, such as a business or income property.

When an Estate Executor is acting in ways that obviously are counter-productive to properly run a business or manage an income property, quick action is necessary to protect the legacy asset.   Appointment of a Receiver is an effective and powerful tool to employ in those situations. A Receiver has fiduciary duty to all parties, not just one side. There is no more equitable action than to seek the appointment of a qualified receiver to protect legacy assets.

The Receiver can step in quickly upon the court granting the appointment, assess the operations and make certain the business or the income property is adequately protected with insurance, licensing if necessary, and to create a temporary estate with all the powers of possession to provide an orderly takeover and protect all parties as well as the legacy asset.

The Estate Executor can also benefit from the appointment of a Receiver because it mitigates their exposure to liability if they have deliberately or, inadvertently taken action that if left uncorrected, may result in negative consequences — such as a monetary judgement if they were not removed from a role which they were not qualified to manage, but were placed in because the decedent named them as the Estate Executor.

I’m Dan Collins, a California licensed real estate broker, general contractor and receivership expert.  To learn more, please visit my website: probate-realtor.biz

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.