Probate is simply the process of administering a deceased person’s estate. Now, dealing with probate is certainly no easy process. In fact, both of my parents were attorneys who practiced in this area and I am well aware that sometimes it can be a long, difficult process – especially when you are already saddened by the recent death, and you have all your own regular daily obligations to deal with as well.
You have probably heard all about how lengthy and anxiety-filled the probate process can be. Selling an inherited property can be a high-stakes part of dealing with the probate situation. In the event of multiple heirs and multiple decision-makers, things can get complicated fast, especially if not everyone agrees upon what to do.
If the probate property has a lot of deferred maintenance, you live out of state, or the situation is very emotionally tense, sometimes the best thing to do is to just sell the house to an investor who will be able to professionally rehab the home and attempt to sell it at a profit at some point in the future. We actually offer a variety of home buying services for people who find themselves in this situation. You can learn more about that here.
Other homes, which are in good condition – or which you are willing to put a little work into to clean out and spruce up – can sell quickly and easily with a real estate agent – netting you and the other heirs top dollar.
The reality, though, is that done right with the aid of a real estate agent experienced in probate, it doesn’t have to be that way. The probate process itself can be a simple as four steps. So if you’re dealing with probate, here’s how a Seattle agent can help you.
Dealing with Probate Process
Without a well-constructed trust in place, probate usually follows a person’s passing. It is the legal process by which the decedent’s debts are settled and the property held on his or her name transferred to beneficiaries and heirs.
Usually, the probate process follows four steps:
1. First is the filing a petition with the probate court to admit the will and appoint an executor or, without a will, to appoint an administrator of the estate. A hearing date is set, and notice of the hearing is published locally. Typically, a good probate attorney will walk you through all of this and make the paperwork as painless as possible for you. My parents know many people in this field in Seattle, so if you need an attorney referral, I would be happy to assist you.
2. After appointment by the court, the decedent’s personal representative gives notice to all creditors, and an inventory of the estate is made.
3. After determining which claims are legitimate, the personal representative pays all expenses, debts, and taxes from the estate. You do NOT have to use your own money for this if you are the executor. This will come from the money and assets owned by the decedant. If they did not have a lot of cash when they tied, you may need to sell their stuff in order to pay off bills. Usually you will sell their car and perhaps have an estate sale to liquidate their other possessions. Once the property is cleared out, you can clean it up and put it up for sale.
4. Assets are disbursed per the decedent’s wishes expressed in the will or, without a will, according to the state’s intestate succession laws. Often any inheritance will go first to a surviving spouse, then children or next of kin.
How a Seattle Agent Can Help You in Dealing with Probate
Now, hopefully the four main steps outlined above seemed like a fairly simple way to deal with probate. Often, administering your duties as the executor of the estate can be fairly straight forward. But when the estate does hold real estate you need to sell, most experts advise using an agent well versed in the probate process for two very good reasons: probate sales required specialized knowledge and scams abound.
PROBATE SPECIAL KNOWLEDGE
A probate or trust sale of real estate is quite different from a typical real estate transaction. It requires special disclosures and a special listing agreement, as well as careful and assiduous attention to the intricacies of probate law. In addition, a probate sale calls for a unique marketing strategy.
In some cases, a probate real estate sale requires court confirmation. Your agent, then, must be conversant with all the legal requirements and court protocols. A good agent should also have strong working relationships with other probate professionals such as probate attorneys and paralegals and court personnel.
So a Seattle agent can definitely help when you’re dealing with probate. Just make sure your agent has plenty of in-the-trenches probate experience for this specialized marketplace. Your agent must be familiar with the unique probate disclosures and the terms of the Probate Code in order to handle your sale accurately and with legal conformity.
There are a lot of scammers out there ready to prey on the emotionally vulnerable, especially those dealing with probate in Seattle after the passing of a loved one. And here are a couple of their common tactics.
Inheritance/Estate Tax Scam – Some states still levy an inheritance or estate tax. Using a trusted person’s or organization’s name, scammers contact potential executors informing them that they stand to inherit a bunch of money. The only catch is that the victims must first send the scammers an inflated tax, which must be paid before probate can go forward.
Fraudulent Listings Scam – Scammers research the property of recently deceased individuals and advertise it for rent. Then, when the scammers collect the deposit and first month’s rent, they disappear, leaving the people dealing with probate to deal with the upset victim.
If you’re dealing with probate, then, an experienced Seattle agent can definitely help you. Knowing what probate involves and being aware of the scams are good first steps, but there’s more to consider.