If you’ve inherited property from a loved one who is now deceased, and you want to sell that property, you need to make sure you’re handling the sale the right way. That way you can find a buyer, complete the sale, and avoid mistakes that could be really costly. Selling probate real estate doesn’t have to be difficult.

With proper knowledge and the right people on your side your transaction can go smoothly, and you’ll be able to sell the property and move on with your life. Before you get started on the sale of the property you’ve inherited through probate, consider all of the legal and financial angles so you can be prepared for anything that comes your way.

Probate and Trust Real Estate Requires Experienced Agents

Hiring an Attorney

Whether you need an attorney or not will generally depend on the complexity of your transaction and whether you want to spend the money for the advice. However, having a good attorney who is well-versed in legal matters can be very important, since it reduces the chances that you’ll make an expensive mistake. While your attorney won’t work for free, they might cost you a lot less than a legal mistake would, so it’s important to think carefully about whether you want that help and representation. Especially for a large estate, some legal help may be a very good idea.

Getting a Real Estate Agent

When you choose a real estate agent to list and market the property, select one that’s very familiar with probate and inheritance matters. That way you’ll have another good professional on your side, and that can give you peace of mind. Choosing a real estate agent for a probate transaction should be undertaken differently than choosing one for a more standard sale. By finding an agent who has the type of experience you’re looking for, you may be able to get the sale to close faster and with less stress which would be beneficial to you and to the buyer, as well. Trying to sell the property yourself generally isn’t a good idea.

How Much Involvement Will the Court Require?

The court will be involved in the sale. You can’t go through probate without it, and there will be letters issued and hearings required that will mean some court dates and filings. If you have an attorney to handle the process for you you’ll have less to stress over, but you can also handle it yourself if you would prefer to do so. While court clerks can’t advise you on filling out forms, because that would be providing legal advice, they can tell you where to find the forms and how much it costs to file them. Most forms are relatively self-explanatory.

Do You Have to Notify People?

Notification is a big deal in the probate real estate world. If you’re selling probate real estate in Washington DC, you’ll need to publish a notice that the property will be sold. The same is true if you’re selling probate real estate in Maryland, or selling probate real estate in Virginia. Just about every state requires that you give notice. Generally, the notice of sale must be placed in at least one newspaper, for a specific period of time. That gives heirs and creditors the chance to come forward and make any claims against the proceeds of the property that’s about to be sold. You can also notify heirs directly, but that won’t stop you from needing to place a notice in the paper.

Making Repairs to the Property

Often repairs, improvements, and renovations need to be done to the property before it can be sold. If that’s the case, you want to make sure you hire trusted professionals who understand the probate process and will do things the right way. Both best-selling authors Marc Cormier and Tania Ivey are well-versed in selling real estate through probate, and they understand the value of having the right people on your side. By working with contractors who will agree to be paid from the proceeds of the property sale, you won’t have out of pocket expenses to deal with on top of everything else. That can provide a big sense of peace of mind, along with financial relief.

What if the Mortgage is Too High?

In some cases, the property you inherited has a mortgage on it. That mortgage may be higher than the value of the property itself, but you can’t be held responsible for paying the difference. Instead, you can see about doing a short sale, so the property can still be sold. If there are other assets, these may also have to be sold to satisfy the mortgage. A good attorney who handles estates can help you through the process if a short sale or other non-standard type of transaction is needed. You have options, and it’s important you explore those choices before agreeing to anything or signing any documents.

Dealing With Family

Some of the trustee & personal representative responsibilities during probate include dealing with matters that are more personal than just finances and real estate. Family members may be interested in renting the house, living in it, or even buying it from you. It’s possible some of them may not feel good about the fact that the property was willed to you. Be prepared for challenges ad arguments, but don’t back down. That can be a very costly mistake, and can be a problem that you’ll need to deal with for a number of years. If you want to sell the property, you should do so. Then you can decide what to do with the proceeds from the sale, and whether you want some of that money to go to other family members.

Handling the Insurance Company

One business you’ll need to contend with is the insurance company. Insurers generally don’t like keeping coverage on homes that are vacant, because the risk of break-ins and other damage is higher when no one lives there. That’s another good reason to sell the property as soon as possible, so you don’t have to pay high insurance premiums for a property you aren’t going to be living in. Just be sure the insurance company knows that your loved one is deceased, and that there is the right kind of insurance on the property until it’s sold.

Disbursing the Funds

In general, you can sell the house even if there may still be claims in the future. Liquidating assets in probate includes the selling of real property that belonged to the deceased, and it’s not realistic to wait months or even years for someone to show up claiming they have a right to some of the proceeds. However, once the house is sold there may be a hold placed on the proceeds. That’s typically six months, but some jurisdictions could be different.

Once the hold time has expired, the proceeds from the sale of the property will be properly distributed to all of the heirs as named in the will, and anyone else who came forward and made a valid, verifiable claim on the property. At that time, the sale of the inherited property and the probate process for that sale are fully complete.

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.