Anna was an interested buyer searching for homes in the $250,000 range in SWFL. Dennis, a Coldwell Banker Realtor, was helping her find this home. Anna liked one property and submitted an offer in January 2020, which was accepted. The closing was set for 45 days. Anna was notified that the owner had passed away. Here is where events unfolded that we can't possibly make it up.
The deceased owner owned property in Maine (ME), too. A week prior to the closing, Anna was notified by the title company that the Will was still in the probate process (court system) in ME. The Will left the property to her “brothers”. During the ME probate proceeding, the family found out the one of brothers who had died in Vietnam had fathered a son. Surprise! With no records of the son's whereabouts, the probate proceeding in Maine was delayed. See, as an heir to the deceased brother, the unknown son has a legal interest to his Aunt's properties and entire estate. The family had no choice but to take action to locate the unknown son for him to inherit his father's interest in the properties left by his Aunt. How long is that going to take and what is that going to cost the family?
Was Anna interested in the family dynamics of the seller, probate court proceedings in MA and Florida and the delay of the 2 cases brought to her life. No! Anna cancelled the contract and moved on. Because the seller had property in Florida, Maine and Massachusetts, none of the properties can be sold unless the family does a probate case in EACH state. Yes, each state!
There are so many lessons here:
- The brothers lost the sale. Lost profits, as the house sits empty for over 8 months.
- They may have to share the proceeds from the different properties with this unknown nephew of theirs.
- Who you think might inherit from you, may be very different from who ultimately inherits from you.
- Family members may not know what spouses, children, grandchildren family members have.
- With no planning or bad planning, these unknown spouses, children, grandchildren may end up inheriting from you whether you like it or not.
- A simple Will does not provide you protection.
- A Will requires court intervention.
- Having property in multiple states, means that after your passing, your family will have to do probate in several states.
- Imagine the expense, time and need to hire counsel in each state and comply with different rules and regulations of each state.
- Having created a trust, this owner would have saved her family quite the headache they have on their hands.
If you're looking for your next home, you may reach out to Dennis.
If you want a thorough review of your plan or want to create a plan where there are no surprises, please call us at 239-529-8731.