Dealing with probate can be a difficult time in life. The loss of a loved one is generally hard, and then there are a lot of loose ends to tie up, too. That can make things feel even more overwhelming, and can leave you with a feeling of not knowing where to start. Part of the process may involve selling probate real estate, along with liquidating assets in probate that aren’t designated as real property.
Probate and Trust Real Estate Requires Experienced Agents
By following the right steps, you can handle all your trustee & personal representative responsibilities during probate, allowing you to move through the process and get everything sold the right way. That will keep the process as fast as possible, and also help ensure that you don’t make a costly mistake while you’re liquidating the assets of the deceased. The steps you’ll need to take can vary from state to state, but will be similar in all jurisdictions.
Have an Appraisal
Among the first things you need to do in order to sell real estate in probate is to have an appraisal done on the property. That way you know what it’s actually worth. If it has a mortgage on it, you can use that appraisal to decide whether a short sale may be in order. For homes that don’t have mortgages, an appraisal confirms that you’ve done your due diligence and that you’re going to be asking a fair price for the home. That can lower your liability if other heirs don’t think you’re asking enough for the house in order for them to receive a fair share.
File a Court Petition
After you have your appraisal, you’ll need to get the petition paperwork from the court, complete it, and file it. Essentially, you’re asking the court for permission to sell the home. If you’re the executor of the will, you shouldn’t have any trouble proving that you’re legally allowed to sell the property. If you have concerns or a unique situation, or you would just feel better with some representation, you may want to hire an attorney to help you through the process. A good estate attorney can help you handle things more easily.
Accept an Offer – And Be Up Front With the Buyer
With permission obtained from the court you’re ready to start marketing the property, as long as it’s physically ready to be sold. If it needs renovations and repairs, working with best-selling authors Marc Cormier and Tania Ivey can help you get those needed changes made and get the property sold quickly. When a buyer makes an offer, it’s important they understand that the sale is going through probate and must be approved by the court. Being up front right from the beginning is important, so the buyer can make the right decision about the property, as well.
Petition the Court for a Hearing
Once you have an offer, you’ll need a hearing so you can ask the court to allow the sale. Hearings can take anywhere from 20 to 40 days or longer, depending on the case load of the court. The hearing will be scheduled, and once that’s done you don’t want to wait around. There are things you’ll need to do before your hearing date actually arrives.
Get a 10% Deposit
In most cases, a 10% deposit is required from the buyer. You’ll need that deposit before the hearing, because it will go toward the purchase price on the day of the hearing if there aren’t any objections to the sale or other buyers who step up to offer more money. Make sure the deposit is properly held in escrow, to protect everyone’s interests.
Advertise the Sale
Selling probate real estate comes with some requirements that aren’t part of a standard sale. If you’re selling probate real estate in Maryland, Washington DC, or Virginia, be sure that you advertise the sale correctly. Information on the sale generally has to be placed in at least one newspaper for a set period of time. That allows for other people to be notified of the sale, in case others with interest in the property want to step forward to try to stop the sale.
Attend the Hearing
With the buyer’s 10% down payment and no objections from the newspaper ad, you can attend the hearing and ask that the court allow the sale of the probate property to the buyer. Make sure you show up at the correct time and date, and that you have all the required paperwork in order. Your buyer should be there, too. That way you can answer any questions the judge might have, and hopefully the sale will be approved without a problem.
Be Aware That Someone May Outbid Your Buyer
Your buyer may not be the only one interested in purchasing the property. If that’s the case, there may be other bidders there at the hearing. It will work like an auction, allowing other people to bid over and above what your buyer has offered to pay. If your current buyer is outbid, you’ll need to return their 10% down payment at that time. If they are the winning (or only) bidder, that 10% will go toward the purchase price of the property.
Complete the Sale
After all is said and done, and the hearing is over, you can complete the sale of the property. That will allow you to be legally finished with the probate process as far as the real estate is concerned. What happens to the property after that point is the responsibility of the buyer, and the proceeds from the sale of that property will be distributed to the heirs according to what was specified in the deceased’s will. The court will handle the distribution, and each state may be different as to how long that takes or the way in which the proceeds are disbursed. There may also be debts that have to be paid from the proceeds of the sale, and that will be done before any other money is distributed.
Choose the Right People to Help You With the Sale
Marc Cormier and Tania are best-selling authors in the real estate genre and have years of experience with probate real estate sales. Your trustee & personal representative responsibilities during probate may seem overwhelming, but they don’t have to be. With the right help, you can make sure your loved one’s real estate is handled fairly after they have passed away. Don’t let your grief get in the way of doing what’s right. Selling real estate through probate can be done safely and effectively, as long as you understand the process and make sure that process is followed the right way. (703) 661-9410.