What Is Probate and How Does It Work in Real Estate Sales?

What is probate? In simple terms, it is a court-supervised process that involves authenticating or verifying a last will and testament of a deceased, if there is one that exists. The administration of this will also include locating and determining the value of the deceased’s assets, distributing their estate to heirs, and paying their final bills and taxes. Quite complicated, here is more to know more about it and how it works in real estate sales.

What Is Probate?

Probate is a process that determines who handles the estate of a deceased if a will is left. The court will oversee the entire process, authenticate the validity of a last will and testament and then appoint an executor (the custodian) to deal with the estate. But if there is no will, the probate court assigns an administrator instead.

The executor is responsible for distributing the assets, money, and property when someone passes away. They must have had the document signed together with the witnesses and have it notarized for bringing to court hearings.

The court has the legal authority to administer and distribute a deceased’s assets to their rightful heirs if a will is in place and decides all estate and will related matters. Probate also pays the decedent’s debts, bills, and taxes, and then distribute the remaining estate to the recipients.

Nevertheless, a probate begins with the analysis of the will, if one is left, and then provides the final ruling in regards to the distribution and division of the assets to the heirs.



What if there is no will?

A person is said to have died intestate if he dies without a last will and testament. But while intestate estate also goes through a probate proceeding, it can be a bit different.

As without a will in place, an estate administrator is assigned by the court, but this rule varies from one state to another.

In some states, the court will be the one to supervise property’s bidding process and sale if the administrator isn’t assigned as the independent administrator.

Nevertheless, every state implements different practices, rules, and regulations for intestate sales, even if the steps are the same. Some states also require that intestate real estate should be sold within a specific number of days.

How Long Is a Probate?

It depends on several factors, including but not limited to the number of heirs, the state laws, the presence of a will, the estate’s size, the total amount of debts and taxes to settle, any tax issues, and any will-contested issues.

Generally, the process takes up to two years or six months for a small estate. In this case, don’t expect to get the real estate property in your possession or ready for sale after someone passes away.

While its length varies from one state to another, many states have adopted the Uniform Probate Code, which was established to make the probate process easier and less expensive. If the estate meets certain requirements, the state may allow it to skip probate.

In Maryland, an estate proceeding may be closed once the filing for creditor claims expires, which is 6 months from the date of death unless it includes a property that needs to be sold, for instance.

If there’s a will, an estate may be closed after the time for challenging the will expires, which is typically six months from the personal representative’s appointment. And within one year of death, regular estates are closed and distributed.



[Here’s a useful glossary of important will and estate related terms.]

What Is Probate in Real Estate Sales and How Does It Work?

If you’re interested in probate real estate sales, educate yourself about the entire process to stay on the right track and avoid pitfalls along the way.

If the person passes away without naming his heirs/beneficiaries to receive the home, the state, through a special probate court, will step in to administer its sale.

A probate real estate sale making it to the court is due to an ownership gap that happens when someone passes away without a will or without bequeathing their property or estate to anyone.

Real estate investors looking to buy a probate home, whether bequeathed to an heir or brought to court can acquire a promising deal if they do things right.

Heirs would have wanted to sell a probate property than to deal with any issues associated with it that might surface later. If you’re an investor, it can be the perfect time to offer them with an alternative solution that might land you a promising deal if you got great negotiation skills.

But if the property is in probate court, it will market the real estate property. Thus, the above strategy might not work. As in this case, the estate representative or probate lawyer will hire a probate real estate agent, who they will have a listing agreement with and show the property to.

And then, the original offer and sale date will depend on the probate court’s confirmation. Once the sale is determined, there will be waiting time of at least 30 days for all the parties involved.

At this time, the probate court will require that the home under probate is marketed and advertised with the new price offer.

Final Thoughts

Probate is a complex topic, especially if a will does not exist, not to mention it’s a tedious, expensive, and time-consuming process. So, if you’re interested in selling, investing, or buying real estate in probate, consult an experienced real estate agent in this space to help you navigate the process without any hassle.

Call 301.842.7156 today!

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