For many, a manufactured home / mobile home is home. What happens when a California resident dies with a manufactured home or mobile home in California?
If the manufactured home or mobile home is placed on a permanent foundation the manufactured home or mobile home and the land are real property. It is treated like any other property owned by a deceased person. That is, the title of the real estate, the estimated net worth of the decedent’s estate, the decedent’s will or trust, if any, or whether there is a surviving domestic partner/registered domestic partner, are considered, if appropriate, to determine who inherits. real property and whether probate, or another method, is required.
However, if a manufactured or mobile home is not on a permanent foundation, it is not part of the land and is personal property. In California, manufactured homes and mobile homes are generally titled and registered with the California Department of Housing and Community Development (“HCD”). Some smaller units are headed by the California Department of Motor Vehicle (“DMV”). Like real property, manufactured or mobile homes can be owned individually, jointly or in trust. Again, title plays an important role in who inherits and how they inherit.
Importantly, California law does not include the total value of the manufactured or mobile home in the total value of the decedent’s probate estate to determine whether probate is required. If the total value of the decedent’s real and personal property located in California is less than the current probate limit of $184,500, then no probate administration is required for a “small estate”
Sometimes the deceased’s main assets are the manufactured home or mobile home and their land, unless the manufactured home is on leased land, eg a mobile home park where rent is paid.
In addition, for small estates, if the total assessed value of all of the decedent’s real property in California is less than $55,425 (for decedent’s death after April 1, 2022) the decedent can record an Affidavit Re Real Property of Small Value and death certificate. County Recorder to change title to lot. Otherwise, a “petition to determine the succession of real and personal property” in a small estate can be used to change the title of the estate and any other property belonging to the decedent with a small estate.
In the case of a manufactured home / mobile home, the deceased’s beneficiaries/heirs often sell the manufactured home and the lot to the same buyer at a single auction. If so, the deceased’s beneficiaries/heirs will have to re-register the real property in their name (usually in the form of an affidavit) before they can sell it. Beneficiaries/heirs can provide the title company in charge of the sale with a mortgage affidavit to claim proceeds from escrow with the title company from the sale of the manufactured or mobile home, without the names of the beneficiaries or heirs ever appearing on the title through the HCD. This approach saves beneficiaries/heirs the cost, time and frustration associated with renovating manufactured/mobile homes through HCD.
Anyone who owns a manufactured or mobile home that is not on a permanent basis must keep their original certificate of title and registration in a safe place known and available to their beneficiaries/heirs. This saves repossession fees if the manufactured home is re-listed in the buyer’s name or in the name of the beneficiary/custodial heir.
Typically, a California resident who owns a manufactured home or mobile home with an HCD title has a small estate and therefore can rely on a will for estate planning. Bank and brokerage accounts can be removed from any probate estate by calling them Pay on Death (“POD”) and Transfer on Death (“TOD”) accounts, as appropriate. Doing so is usually sufficient to ensure the owner’s small property of the manufactured or mobile home and its premises, and no other real property.
The above is not legal advice. Anyone dealing with the issues discussed above should consult an attorney for guidance. Dennis A. Fordham, attorney, State Bar Certified Specialist in estate planning, probate and trust law. His office is at 870 S. Main St., Lakeport, Calif. He can be reached at [email protected] and 707-263-3235.