Most of the time when someone hears that real estate is being sold through probate, they assume that someone died in the unit. In some cases, the decedent may have passed away in the property or they may have died in a hospital or care facility; in other cases, the owner may still be alive and requires the sale to fund their ongoing care--a conservatorship sale.
California has specific laws for disclosures regarding death. In 1983, a case made it statutory that the administrator/executor does not need to disclose a death if it occurred more than 3 years prior to the sale.
If a death occurs on the property within the 3-year period, and the circumstances of the death are material (it was a gruesome or offensive death, or affected the reputation of the property), it must be disclosed.
Deaths more than 3 years past
If the buyer asks if there have been any deaths, the administrator/executor must disclose all known deaths on the property. This is only if the buyer asks.
As a buyer, if you have any concerns or questions regarding death on the property (and not everyone does), you should always ask, in writing, to the administrator/executor. If the death occurred more than 3 years earlier, it’s better to ask than to find out after the close of escrow.
For more information on what disclosures are required for a Probate Real Estate Sale, please visit our website at http://www.sanbornteam.com/ or call us at 310-777-2858 to receive a free up-to-date California Association of Realtors disclosure chart.