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CA Probate - neighbor wants to buy vacant house (current owner deceased)

Santa Fe Springs, CA |

I have located a vacant house on my street, I did some research and found that the owner has died, (2 years ago), I called the court, and verified no probate has been filed in Los Angeles county (house is in LA County).

I would like to be able to buy this house.

Can I, being non-related, file for probate? if so, then what happens if no heirs make themselves known?

If I do find an heir, can they sign an agreement to sell me the house, IF they are deemed the heir, will that stand up in court?

If I file, will i need to come up with any money upfront, or will an attorney work on contigency, and get paid, when assets are distributed, and house is sold.


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Attorney answers 1


House sales that are part of an estate are more complicated than a normal sale. They can be relatively easy, assuming you go through the proper channels. Unfortunately, an interested buyer cannot file for probate. Only the heirs of the owner may file for probate. I wonder if this house was in a trust - that may be why no probate was filed. If you do find an heir, you will want to have a real estate agent or an attorney assist you with the purchase process. Once you have a contract with the heir, the court must approve the sale if the home is in probate. If there is a trust then there is no probate and title should first be transferred to the heir(s) and then the sale can proceed. Please make sure you obtain title insurnace (typically the seller pays the buyer's owner's policy, the buyer pays the lender's policy). You should consult an attorney regarding your particular situation but I hope this gives you an idea of the process.

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