When the death of a loved one occurs, perhaps the last thing you want to think about is going through the probate process to sell a family home. The probate court process can quickly become complicated depending on the will of the deceased. The court will monitor and supervise the probate process and home until each party gets the rightful inheritance.
It’s vital to know how to sell a house in probate as there are various distinct requirements for which you may be legally responsible. Continue reading below for a step-by-step guide for selling a home in probate and avoiding common mistakes.
What Is a Probate House?
When someone passes away, all assets need proper distribution and disposal according to their will and the law. These assets include properties, investments, cash, and vehicles. If you want the right to deal with a deceased person’s estate assets, you’ll need to apply for a court grant of probate.
The grant essentially proves to the probate registry that you are legally permissible to settle the estate. Once you’ve obtained the court grant, the real estate becomes available to transfer to the beneficiaries or put on the market.
How to Sell Houses in Probate: Step-by-Step Guide
Whether you need to settle debts or satisfy a will, sometimes it’s necessary to sell the property you inherit. However, a probate sale involves several moving components that make it challenging to navigate. Follow the steps below to make the probate sales process as smooth as possible:
1) Talk with Your Family Members
Real estate in probate can quickly cause arguments and stress among family members. If someone feels mistreated or distraught, they may take legal action against you or another family member.
It’s natural for people to become slightly agitated, especially in times of emotional upset, and some may even say things that they will later regret. So, try your best to remain calm and have productive conversations with all the parties involved. Avoid doing anything in secret as it will dissolve trust and make things more hostile.
Ensure that all heirs are up-to-date on all decisions and have complete transparency whenever taking action.
2) Consider Hiring an Attorney
Since settling a home in probate can be difficult, it may be beneficial to work with a probate attorney specializing in real estate. The attorney can help you with all the court documentation, tax filing, and advice on what to do with the house.
You can also partner with an experienced real estate agent if you don’t want to focus your energy on the home. The real estate agent can evaluate the home and make sure it’s ready for the next buyer when the appropriate time comes. A real estate sales agent can also deal with appraisers and inspectors to expedite the probate sales process.
3) Visit the Home for a Final Analysis
This step may be one of the most challenging since you’ll need to visit the home and decide what to do with the remaining valuables. Try your best to be strong, but it’s natural to feel emotional when stepping into the home.
One important job is to ensure that the house is livable. If the deceased were elderly or ill, chances are the home may not be in the best shape. You may need to conduct repairs and thorough cleaning to ensure the property is in good enough shape to put up for sale.
4) Appeal to the Probate Court to List the Home for Sale
The first thing you’ll need to do is get the home’s current sale value. Since the tax assessment tends to be lower than the actual property price, it’s best to hire an appraiser recommended by your attorney or real estate sales agent.
Once you have the home’s appraised value, you and your attorney can petition the probate court to approve the home listing for sale. You can only market the house for sale with court approval.
5) Develop a Probate Sales Agreement and Collect Your Deposit from the Buyer
Once your home is ready to go on the market, you’ll need to craft a sales agreement and disclosures about the property for all potential buyers. You need to clarify that the home is in probate, as that could affect the transaction date. Any material property damage that could affect the home’s sale price should also be in the agreement.
After you find a buyer, collect a 10% money deposit on the property. You’ll also need to keep up with maintenance and insurance during the probate period. Some insurance companies will cover damages while the home is in probate, but it’s best to double-check with your provider.
6) Close the Deal
Once the buyer and court are ready, it’s time to close the sale of the property. Remember that only the administrator or executor can legally sign off on the real estate sales documents on behalf of the deceased. It’s vital to go through all the final documents with your lawyer and real estate agent to ensure everything about the property is in order.
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Selling Probate Houses
The probate sales process is understandably tricky to manage. Here are common mistakes to avoid so that you don’t get yourself in a legal bind:
Not Understanding the Probate Court Process
Even if you’re the executor appointed by the court, you can’t sell probate real estate as if it’s a regular home. The reason is that you cannot even start the process of selling the home without legal approval from a judge. As a result, it’s beneficial to have an experienced lawyer assist you in getting all the required documentation.
The probate court process can take weeks or even months, so it’s truly a game of patience. Although you’re likely dealing with many emotions during these difficult times, you must think straight and try to be as calm as possible.
Working Alone or with Inexperienced Professionals
Even if you’re experienced in real estate or selling properties, transferring a probate home is not an easy task. Therefore, you’ll need to hire competent professionals to assist you.
Having inexperienced people on your team will only prolong the probate process and cause more frustration. So, be sure to work with only the best lawyers, real estate agents, and appraisers available to settle the property.
Not Doing Anything with the Home
While the idea of settling a home in probate can be overwhelming, you can’t leave the house vacant for too long. The longer the home is empty, the more material property damage you’ll need to manage. It will affect the home’s sale value and make the property more difficult to sell.
Try your best to focus as much energy as you can on settling the home in probate. It may be stressful, but it will be far easier than dealing with it in the future. The good news is there are numerous professionals to help make the probate court process smoother.
You can also try and get your family together for emotional support. It never hurts to have someone to talk to when trying to dispose of the home of a deceased loved one.
Settling a probate home isn’t easy, but you will get through it as long as you follow the probate process. The probate estate will have a new owner in time, and you can finally move forward with your life.
Try all the steps above and avoid the common mistakes people make when selling property in probate. Every local area has its probate guidelines and costs, so be sure to read up on all the requirements before taking action. If you find the process too taxing, contact a professional at Kind House Buyers to help you consider your options.