Being Sensitive to a Real Estate Client’s Loss

Last year a majority of our client relations were a result of the loss of a loved one in the client’s family. These situations require a great deal of sensitivity and compassion for the family members often left with a plethora of confusing documents, bank accounts, debt, tax and property issues to handle. Adding to the stress of losing a loved one, there can be strained instances of sibling rivalry and hurdles to navigate that wouldn’t exist if there were no money or assets involved.

We’ve run into numerous situations that require care above and beyond the emotions involved with a client’s loss of a loved one in conjunction with the gain of property and other assets. We’ve had tenants of inherited property get sticky with moving out and mention of security deposits without proof of existence, we’ve had a church and a monastery on title that nobody knew about, we’ve had clients’ emotional ties to their childhood home that slowed down the will or desire to sell a property and we’ve had a short sale property that was left to a friend of the deceased to sell. The list goes on and on…

We’ve also witnessed the love between family members who trust their siblings to make the right decision on behalf of the estate. The family members work together to help choose a new owner of their childhood home. In these cases, it is usually a family with children that the heirs prefer selling the home to due to the warm memories of their own childhoods growing up in the home. Though important, money is often not the primary motivating factor in cases like these.

Being patient with what a client is experiencing is only part of the job and is often the most important part. It is very rewarding to be able to help people navigate through a difficult time in life.  I know what it’s like to lose someone suddenly. My father was hit head-on in a car collision in 2000 and I will never forget the kindness people showed to me in the aftermath of that incident. Although there was no real estate property left to me or my siblings, the experience of loss has helped me with my job today.

On the lighter side, my mother who is still alive and kicking said she’d leave me everything when she departs from this life. She jokes that all she has to leave behind is a sense of humor and a big heart — and that is all I need…

Change That Will!

Several years ago when I was experiencing some dark lonely days, I put together a will and bought a cemetery plot. (Yes, I do own land!)

That same will is now sitting on my desk at home as a reminder to revise it since I got re-married last year. My husband (Greg) and I have been walking by that desk every day for the last few weeks. He’s patient with me. He knows I’ll get it done. In fact, when we put aside some time soon, we’ll both work on the revision together.

When I put together that will years ago, I was still legally married to my still-good-friend and former husband Francis Luke, with whom I co-owned the Rickshaw Express restaurants and other Rickshaws around the bay area for many years. Francis is still listed in the will as being the beneficiary of everything. In the will, it says that even after our then-marriage is dissolved, it was my wish that he remain the beneficiary of everything save for a few thousand dollars for my brother and sister.

However, a lot has changed in the last few years:

  • My sister has since given me two beautiful little nieces. Pressley (the Happy Baby) is 18 months old and Gia (the Moody Baby AKA “Gia Pet”) is 3 years old.
  • I got re-married to Greg, a wonderful man who’s given me more than just his heart.
  • Francis is now Greg’s friend too. (Side note: When I first told Francis that Greg and I started working together, his response was “poor, poor Greg!”)

I better not get hit by a bus any time soon!

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