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Wine Country Fire Issues with Trust Litigation Attorney Michael Hackard | Fiduciary Broker Vlog

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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

 

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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

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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

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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

 

What Defines You in Your Role When Administering an Estate? – Fiduciary Broker Vlog #5

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’s subject is about serving as a Trustee or an Administer to an Estate, and the obligation to act as a fiduciary in your role. I read a Zig Ziglar quote this morning that was very appropriate to this subject.  Mr. Ziglar stated: “Integrity eliminates guilt, because you do the right thing.”

If you are a family member that has been tasked to administer an estate, you may not know it but your actions will define you, and your family’s opinion of you, for years into the future.  I know this from my own personal experience having acted as Probate Administrator in my father’s estate, and as the Trustee in my mother’ estate. If you have recently been appointed as a personal representative to a Probate or, as a Trustee to administer an estate, you will be presented with challenges in the coming months that you never imagined.

Let me share with you a story about a very difficult I challenge I personally had to negotiate while acting as a Trustee administrating my mother’s estate. To complete the distributions to my siblings, who were beneficiaries, I needed to sell an income property that her estate partially owned. The tenant had provided me with the required written notice of their intention to exercise the option to purchase, and my siblings and I were anxious to complete that sale and make the final distributions of the estate.

I had a willing buyer, who was the tenant in the property, but his business partner objected to the terms.  The negotiations to settle with his unhappy partner took almost three months, during which time the bank withdrew its offer to fund the loan.

Meanwhile, my younger sister, who had anticipating that the sale would be completed, and that she would receive a cash distribution, had gone under contract to buy a home in the city where she lived. She had placed a large non-refundable deposit on the home and had days to close her acquisition or she would forfeit her large deposit. As you can imagine, this created a lot of stress on me to perform and meet everyone’s expectations.

Despite years of experience as a court appointed receiver administrator, and years of experience with all facets of probate, I found myself in a defining moment in my life.  I knew that how I handled this situation would define my relationship with my siblings for the rest of my life.  Fortunately, following the integrity advice of Zig Ziglar, I met the challenge head on and I did the right thing for my siblings.

I managed to salvage the sale of the trust owned property, I found a bridge loan for my sister, so she did not have to forfeit her deposit and lose the home she and her husband wanted, and I made it possible for the tenant to get new preferred loan terms from their lender.  It was the best solution for everyone, even though I personally had to give up a lot financially to make it happen.  But I absolutely don’t regret the decisions I made at my own expense because I kept my relationship with my siblings in good standing.

And that’s the same advice I would give anyone who is a trustee or an administrator to an estate: Do the right thing!  Benefiting yourself at the expense of others is a recipe for broken relationships and poor reputations.  In the long run, the potential financial gains are never worth the lifelong costs of bitter hurt feelings, and family rifts that can sometimes last for generations.

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.