What Happens When An Owner Dies While Selling Their Property?

By · March 30, 2013
Do you think everything continues on as though that owner were still alive?  Can a spouse just slide in and continue on their merry way? Well this very thing is happening right now on a piece of property I have listed.  The property is unique in itself and had been on the market for over a month when we got an offer.  This property is an investment property and the sellers bought it a couple of years ago so they could "flip" it.  For whatever reason, they did nothing with it until this year.  One of the reasons is because it is so unique and needed a lot of work.  Then at the beginning of the year, they finished getting it ready for market and at the beginning of this month, an offer came in that the sellers were entertaining. There are 3 sellers, two of them are are married to each other and the third one, who is unrelated, lived in Arizona and I have never had contact with him.  All conversations were only with the married sellers. When this offer came in, I had heard that the seller in Arizona was not feeling well but he and his family thought he would be fine.  Just as the offer was being sent to him, he passed away.  What a shock to all involved. So, what happens now?  The buyer wants his offer accepted so they can move forward; as does the remaining 2 sellers.  However, this is a sensitive situation.  So it was decided to wait until after the funeral before letting the heirs know about this offer, which we all felt was the right thing to do. The other problem was no one knew if the seller who passed away had a trust or even a will. You see, if the property is not in a trust, then the property would have had to go through probate.  That could take a long time before this property would sell.  If it was in a trust, who is the successor trustee?  Would that person be cooperative in the sale or would this person want to keep the property? Since this seller died in Arizona, his attorney had to refer the heirs to an attorney in California.  We are all in a waiting mode right now and hope we can move forward soon with selling the property. The moral of the story - Make sure you have your affairs in order in case the unthinkable happens.
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