What is Probate?

Probate or Not?

Please seek the advice of an attorney for any legal advice.

Keep in mind that Probate is a "court-sanctioned process for transferring property of the deceased to the living heirs." The purpose of the Probate process is to gather and safeguard the decedent's assets, pay debts to all legitimate creditors, and distribute the asset to the appropriate heirs. When a property owner is deceased, the court must appoint and oversee a Personal Representative to sign the deed to transfer the house to a new Buyer. When there is a will in place, the personal representative is the Executor; where there is no will the personal representative is an Administrator.

Probate Is Necessary If:

The aggregate value of the decedent's property exceeds $150,000. (In addition, this assumes that the death of the last Joint Tenant, Tenant in Common, Community Property member, or Community Property with Right of Survivorship member has occurred.)


Probate Is Not Necessary if Any of the Following Conditions Exist:

  1. Property value over $150,000 AND included in a Living Trust. 
  2. Title taken as Joint Tenancy. 
  3. Title taken as Community Property with Right of Survivorship. 
  4. A beneficiary designation exists: Pay on Death Account (POD) or Transfer on Death Account (Totten Trust). 
  5. Small estate value of less than $150,000 with no real property. 
  6. Small estate (valued at $50,000 or less) with real property value less than $50,000. 
  7. Small estate with real property between $50,000-$150,000. 
  8. If a separate property exists, but there is a WILL which states the surviving spouse gets the property, then a Spousal Petition may be filed and no probate needed.


What Is a C.P.R.E.S. & What Does It Stand For?

  • C.P.R.E.S. stands for Certified Probate Real Estate Specialist 
  • To obtain this specific certification I must pass an exam administered by US Probate Services, in addition to logging countless hours of study for the exam 
  • A C.P.R.E.S. designation means I understand the needs of the estate because I understand the probate process from the initial filing of the petition for probate through the distribution of the estate 
  • When working with a C.P.R.E.S. you'll be guaranteed that the personal property within the estate will be handled with utmost care. I have a resource team that consists of personal property appraiser, home inspectors or specific trade inspectors, licensed general contractors, and photographers, just to name a few, who we coordinate with to make sure the value of the property is maximized when it goes to sale. 
  • If the estate needs to be sold quickly and in AS-IS condition, as a C.P.R.E.S. I have access to a pool of investors who are willing and able to purchase the property without any improvements/repairs so that you, the PR, do not need to deal with the financing challenges of a potential Buyer or a long drawn-out escrow.
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  • A C.P.R.E.S. can and is very familiar with holding estate sales to clear a home of personal property. Often times, Executors/Administrators get overwhlemed with the contents of a probate property, especially if the decedent was the original and only owner of the property! A C.P.R.E.S. will help you work through the process of clearing out the estate while ensuring the estate receives top dollar for all the items within the home. 
  • Many clients choose not to use a Probate Attorney in the initial stages of the probate process because they’re of the mind frame that “hey, I can figure this out without one!” Most people learn this is not the case very quickly. If you choose the counsel of a Probate Attorney, know that your C.P.R.E.S. often has a long working history with some of the best in the industry so if it’s a referral you need, your C.P.R.E.S. is a great place to start.

Will Any Realtor Do?? Why Do I Need a C.P.R.E.S.?


A C.P.R.E.S. understands the complicated process that the courts have in place for liquidating real property. In addition, my job is to help you realize the implications of your decisions as the Executor/Administrator of the estate. I have access to proven resources within the real estate industry that will maximize the value of the estate.

Remember, my goal is to bring the estate the highest and best price for the property in the shortest amount of time possible, while maintaining an extremely high level of understanding, compassion and transparency for you, the Executor/Administrator. The probate process is long and complicated enough, often times exceeding a one year timeframe, so why deal with 'any Realtor' who could potentially string you along through the process even longer or hold up progress altogether because they're not sure as to what the next step is?

Additional Probate Details 

  • Probate files are public information. 
  • Probate takes place in the county of the decedent's residence. 
  • Your probate Attorney is NOT responsible for the liquidation of any real property within the estate; that's the responsiblity of your C.P.R.E.S. 
  • There are a number of tax implications for beneficiaries receiving assets from the distribution of an estate; make sure you know what they are prior to distribution.

If you would like assistance for a property in probate or further questions about the probate process please call me for your free consultation. 858-761-7890.

Please seek the advice of an attorney for any legal advice.

Work With The Valerie Upham Team

Valerie and her team have assisted hundreds of clients to reach their real estate goals. With fierce negotiation skills and extensive knowledge of the San Diego real estate market, they demonstrate a solid proficiency in handling every stage of the process.

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