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Selling a House in Probate: Your Essential Guide

By The HomeGo Team On 2018-04-20

Probate is the legal process for distributing an individual’s property following their death. The probate process formally recognizes a will, if one exists, and appoints personal representatives to administer the estate.

If someone dies with a will, the will dictates how the personal representative must administer the estate. However, if someone dies without a will, state law governs the administration of the estate. The individual who dies, leaving behind the estate, is called the decedent. The personal representative is called an executor if there is a will, while they are called administrators if there isn’t.

Executors or administrators may sell houses in probate, subject to legal restrictions. This guide discusses the legal aspects of probate sale and court confirmation and how to navigate probate sale restrictions and listings.

Does Every Property Go Through Probate?

Generally, only probate assets go through probate. Non-probate assets do not. Probate assets form part of the individual estate at the time of death. Non-probate assets are passed to the beneficiaries directly by operation of law. Examples of non-probate assets include jointly owned assets with rights of survivorship, assets transferred to a living trust and life insurance policies with named beneficiaries.

Who Can Sell a House in Probate?

Only designated individuals or institutions can deal with probate assets, including:

  • Executor: The person named in the will as executor and recognized by the court may sell probate property with the court’s authority. Any other person may lack the legal capacity to deal with a third party.
  • Administrator: The person appointed by the court to administer the estate without a will may sell the property with the court’s authority.
  • Court: In certain instances, the probate court may sell the property.
  • Heirs: Beneficiaries who inherit the property after completing the probate process may sell the property.

If you receive a non-probate property and have the title, you may sell it without further approval from the court.

Can You Sell a House Before Probate?

Generally, administrators or executors may only sell property after the probate process is complete. Any transaction concerning a probate asset made before probate may be invalid. An exception is when the house is a non-probate asset.

Can You Sell a House During Probate?

Yes, you can sell a house during probate, subject to legal restrictions. For example, the personal representative may sell assets, excluding houses bequeathed to beneficiaries, to help cover probate costs. However, they must obtain court approval by filing a petition detailing the reasons for the proposed sale. After paying expenses and debts, the probate court splits any remaining profit among the beneficiaries.

Some states have statutes that allow personal representatives to sell assets without court supervision or permission. In such instances, you must strictly comply with the regulatory requirements to avoid adverse legal consequences.

Does Probate Cost Anything?

You will incur some costs during the probate process. Examples include court costs, executor fees, attorney fees, and appraisal and valuation expenses. You may also incur costs associated with selling the house and paying taxes, depending on the circumstances.

The amount you pay as probate fees depends on several factors. One important consideration is the size of the estate. Generally, the larger the estate, the more you’re likely to pay. Other factors include estate complexity and contests or disputes.

After paying funeral expenses, taxes and debts, the personal representative can distribute what’s left to the beneficiaries. If there isn’t a will, state laws go into effect to determine the further distribution of the property.

How Should You Pay for Probate Fees?

If you are an executor or administrator of the estate and there is a property that hasn’t been willed to a beneficiary, you are allowed to sell it to cover the costs. Following the sale, all proceeds will be applied to the probate and debts of the estate first.

The probate court will divide the remainder to distribute amongst beneficiaries. The state where the property is located is considered to determine the proceeds, but the county makes the ultimate determination. If another jurisdiction holds the deceased’s property, in addition to probate for the state, an ancillary administration goes into effect.

Executers may receive bids and sell properties in probate, even when the process is still in action. While this is acceptable, the process is tedious and must adhere to strict state rules. The probate court must monitor and approve the terms of the sale.

Who May Receive Money from a Probate Process?

The parties who may receive money from the probate process include creditors, funeral-related vendors, beneficiaries, and relevant state and federal tax offices. After that’s taken care of, what remains is distributed to heirs or beneficiaries named in the will. If there was no will at the time of death, state law determines property distribution.

What Issues Are Involved in a Probate House Sale?

Jurisdiction can become confusing in this situation. The probate process applied to the house you want to sell is governed by the state in which the house is located. If the deceased possessed property in another state, supporting administration is implemented.

Simply put, the probate process happens in whatever jurisdiction the property is located in. The court doesn’t care where you live or where the deceased may have lived.

The executor may accept an offer from a buyer and sell the property while the probate is still in process. It is tedious and requires you to monitor the sale to ensure compliance with strict regulations. In addition to this monitoring, the probate court must approve the terms of the sale.

What Are the Roles and Rights of Heirs in Probate Sales?

Heirs or beneficiaries are entitled to inherit assets under the law. To protect their interests, the law provides certain rights, including the following:

  • Right to notice: Beneficiaries have the right to receive notice of probate proceedings, including the proposed sale of real properties.
  • Right to contest: Beneficiaries may contest the sale of probate assets or sue to protect their interests.
  • Right to share in proceedings: Beneficiaries are entitled to receive their share of the property under the law.

What Are the Rights and Responsibilities of Buyers in Probate Sales?

Buyers must do proper due diligence to verify the seller’s capacity to sell the property and ensure all legal processes have been followed. They must also pay the agreed amount in the specified money to validate the sale. Buyers also have certain rights, including the following:

  • Right to receive a good title: Buyers have the right to receive the property free from defects. They also have the right to purchase title insurance to protect against potential title issues and claims to the property.
  • Right to sue: Buyers may sue to protect their interests, depending on the facts of the case.
  • Right to inspect the property: Buyers have the right to inspect the property before the sale.
  • Right to purchase or withdraw: Buyers have the right to buy the property or withdraw from the sale, subject to legal limitations.

Best Way to Sell a House in Probate

To sell a house that’s in probate requires a specific process. Proper filing with the court is required. Additionally, the court must approve the sale. This process can take 45-60 days — though sometimes longer — and a traditional real estate agent can add to that time frame.

Throughout the extended process, the executor must pay the taxes, insurance and utility costs for the home. This can be expensive on its own, but adding agent fees for the commission can make it worse. HomeGo can reduce this to-do list to something more tolerable.

HomeGo makes it possible to receive a guaranteed highest cash offer for the property while sidestepping all the messy legal processes.

If you want to sell a house in probate, here’s how easy it is with HomeGo:

  1. Get a real cash offer on the probated house.
  2. After the offer and your 10-minute walk-through, a petition is required to sell real estate.
  3. Await the probate court’s approval once the petition is filed.
  4. When the court approves, the sale can be closed within one week.

HomeGo can make the probate process much easier for you and provide a much-needed breath of fresh air during a difficult time.

Sell Your House in Probate Today

HomeGo simplifies the home selling process, providing a ready market for your property. We learn about your needs and make a quick offer without you making any commitments. There are no hidden fees or surprises. Once ready, we can close the sale in as little as seven days. We purchase with cash, so there is no need to worry about financing contingencies. You decide when to close — everything happens on your schedule.

HomeGo has years of industry experience. We believe selling a home, even in probate, should not be complicated or disappointing. We make the process simple and fast for home sellers who want a smooth transaction. Do you want to learn more about selling homes in probate? Contact us now!

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