Understanding the Probate
A conservatorship is a court case in which a judge appoints a responsible person or organization to care for another adult who cannot care for himself /herself or manage his/ her own finances. The person who is unable to care for themselves is referred to as a conservatee. The person or organization appointed to care for this individual is called a conservator.
The role of conservator is very similar to that of an administrator or an executor. As a conservator you will be placed in a position in which you are responsible to make decisions on someone else's behalf. In the case of the conservatorship the person is still alive. In the case of probate the person has already passed. This is why a conservatorship is also sometimes referred to as a "living probate."
There are two types of probate conservatorships:
- General Conservatorship
- Limited Conservatorship
A general conservatorship is set up for adults who cannot handle their own finances OR care for themselves. Limited conservatorships are set up for adults with developmental disabilities who cannot fully care for themselves or their property, but who do NOT require the higher level of care under the general conservatorship.
A court can appoint the conservator in three different ways:
- Conservator of the Person
- Conservator of the Estate
- Conservator of BOTH
It is important to note that being appointed conservator of the person does NOT mean you are automatically appointed conservator of the estate. You must petition for these separately. However, if someone desires to be both you can file for both at the same time.
Since this report is dealing with understanding the conservatorship estate sale, we will only discuss the estate portion of conservatorship. Once you have been appointed conservator of the estate and have officially received letters from the court, you can act on behalf of the conservatee concerning their estate. Just like the personal representative in probate, you are expected to take on certain duties. Some of these duties include:
- To manage the conservatee's finances
- To locate and take control of the conservatee's assets
- To collect income due the conservatee
- To make a budget to show what the conservatee can afford
- To pay the bills for the conservatee
- To invest the conservatee's money
- To protect the conservatee's assets
- To account to the court and to the conservatee for management of the conservatee's assets
As the conservator you also owe the conservatee a fiduciary responsibility. This means you must handle all of their affairs with the utmost prudence and honesty. It is a big responsibility and must be handled with great care.
At times the cost of medical bills, housing, food, and further care can exceed the current resources in the estate. In some cases the conservatee may develop the need to be placed in assisted living. For reasons such as these, it is sometimes necessary for the conservator to sell real property on behalf of the conservatee. It is often a very reasonable solution to providing for ongoing care for the conservatee.
The Way Realty specializes in conservatorship sales. If you have found yourself in this position and you need to hire a qualified Broker who understands conservatorship and the delicate details involved, please call The Way Realty. We are sensitive and caring and we understand the need for a professional who knows how to handle these sales!
A living trust is a legal document that, just like a will, contains your instructions concerning your assets when you die. However, unlike a will, a living trust avoids probate at death. Some of the benefits of a living trust are:
- Avoids the need for probate
- Allows you to choose the successor trustee who will be in charge of administering your estate
- Allows your information to stay private
- Saves time and money (no need for attorneys and legal fees)
- Allows you to stay in control of your estate
- Helps to avoid quarreling between loved ones
By creating a living trust you simplify the process and control the disbursement of your estate after your death. Having a clear and detailed document stating your desires often helps to avoid the situation where family members are quarreling over items in your estate. It also allows you to keep your private information just that, private! Probate allows public access to all of your estate's information.
If you have not created a living trust you should consider speaking to a qualified attorney to decide if one is right for you. If you need a referral to a trust attorney please let us know. The Way Realty would be more than happy to give you the name and number of an attorney who can assist you.
As a successor trustee your job will be quite simplified compared to the personal representative of a probate estate. The sale of any real property does not require any court supervision. Your sale will be handled, for the most part, the same way as a standard real estate transaction.
However, there are still duties and responsibilities you will want to take very seriously. Just like the personal representative of a probate case, you will hold a fiduciary responsibility. The duties expected of you are similar to that of an administrator or executor of a probate case. Some of those duties include:
- Find and take control of the estate assets
- Protect those assets until all matters concerning the trust estate are settled
- Disburse all of the estates assets to the proper persons
- Prepare and file all final taxes
Although not necessary, it is wise to contact an attorney in regards to your responsibilities and duties surrounding the administration of the trust estate.
If you need to sell a property left in a living trust please call The Way Realty today! We have handled many trust sales. We will aggressively market your trust sale to ensure you receive the best possible price and terms!!