Can I Avoid Probate?

by Ted Ricasa on Feb 24, 2014

In a perfect world, you would be guaranteed respite and time to heal following the death of a loved one. Unfortunately, we live in an imperfect world dictated by rules, regulations, and unforeseeable complications. This period becomes even more stressful in the absence of a last will and testament, in which case the decedent’s estate goes into probate. What is probate, and can you avoid it?

What Is Probate?

When an individual passes away, his or her estate goes into probate court. During this process, the court will identify and determine the value of the decedent’s assets, which can include cash, investments, and real estate. Once all creditors receive the amount owed by the decedent, the court distributes any remaining assets among the estate’s Blog: What to Expect When You Inherit a Home. Although you cannot avoid probate altogether, you can take steps to expedite the process. Probate, which can drag on for months or even years, places undue stress on you, your family, and anyone else entitled to a portion of the estate’s assets. Some assets, such as cash, vehicles, and small valuables, can be quickly liquidated and used to repay creditors. Liquidating other assets—especially homes—requires significantly more time, money, and paperwork. Fees and expenses, which vary by state and most often total thousands of dollars, can include:

·       Accounting fees for preparation and filing of applicable state and federal estate taxes

·       Appraisal fees to establish the value of the property

·       Attorney’s fees, and

·       Bond fees

This is only a partial list of added expenses and does not even begin to address the costs incurred by maintaining the decedent’s property throughout the probate process. Someone who is in a relatively stable financial position can “wait it out,” to speak, until all estate matters have been settled. Regrettably, very few people can take advantage of this opportunity and must pursue options that allow for a more timely solution.

When Time Is of the Essence, You Have Options

In many cases the decedent’s family members have amassed large amounts of debt helping with medical and living expenses. As a result, it isn’t always financially feasible to retain the property itself for the beneficiary’s family. The good news is that family members are not expected to settle the decedent’s debts out of their own pocket. Instead, creditors will be paid by the estate.

In the absence of legal complications or disputes, you may have the option to sell the home while it is still in probate. Requirements for selling vary by state, with some states allowing the estate administrator to initiate the sale. Other states give greater power to the court rather than the administrator. Even if the probate court must approve the sale, you can take certain steps to ensure that the property is sold relatively quickly.

Once the sale is approved, you have another tough decision to make on behalf of the estate. You can either enlist the help of a realtor, or you can initiate a short sale to receive cash for the home. In the current real estate market, listing the home through a real estate agency may not result in a timely sale. The condition of the property will determine in part how quickly it will sell, so a home in disrepair could reasonably sit on the market for a year or longer. Selling through a real estate agent will incur expenses for commission, closing fees, and a title transfer, and these expenses will be taken out of the estate.

If you decide to move forward and request a cash offer from Fast Home Help, you will avoid much of the headaches and hassles that come with a lengthy probate process. For example, selling the home or cash will allow you to bypass the fees that come with a traditional sale, and the entire cash amount will go directly to the estate. In only 10 days, the cash will be deposited into an account on behalf of the estate. When you request a quote, you have absolutely no obligation to sell us your home, but you will find that our prices are fair and our selling process is far more efficient than the traditional property sale.

To learn more about Fast Home Help, or to request a Property Privacy Audit, please contact us at (877) 595-7274. In addition to making you an offer, we can help you understand the complex probate and real estate requirements for your state. 

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