Probate and Property Issues: Clarity in a Confusing Situation
By Ted Ricasa
VIDEO: Heirs Fight Over An Inheritance, Advisers Referee
All too often, the loss of a family member is complicated by the fact that no one in the family was prepared for it – including the deceased. Ideally, every adult would have at least a basic estate plan in place, comprised of a will, assignment of power of attorney, and a living will specifying which medical treatments should and should not be administered at the end of life. Unfortunately, according to a 2011 EZLaw Wills & Estate Planning survey, 56 percent of the American adult population does not have such an estate plan. Most families are left with a series of complex tax and legal problems, especially when real estate is involved.
If you recently lost a loved one who owned a home but did not have an estate plan in place, you may be feeling somewhat overwhelmed right now, especially if you have been named the administrator of the estate by a probate court. At a time when you should be allowed to mourn your loss, you are probably instead having to deal with lawyers, accountants, and a tangle of red tape.
Please take a moment to read the following information about properties in probate, keeping in mind that the information is general in nature and that probate laws vary from state to state. It is important that you know the laws of your state and how they affect your specific rights and options.
Can We Help?: Request a Cash Offer for the Home in Probate
What do I have to look forward to as administrator of an estate?
If you have been named the administrator of your loved one’s estate, you have a serious and potentially daunting responsibility ahead of you. Depending on the size of your family, you may be dealing with multiple heirs, each with his or her own interests and ideas as to how property should be divided. The actual probate process can take months or even years, depending on the size and worth of the estate and the complexity of the legal issues brought into play. If you are fortunate, your loved one owned his or her home outright. If there is a mortgage on the home, however, those payments will have to be made until such time the property is sold or the mortgage is paid in full. Probate and administrative fees will also accumulate over the span of the probate process.
The length of the probate process can be minimized through the timely liquidation of assets, with the most difficult asset to sell usually being the home and other real estate.
My loved one’s home is in terrible shape. How can I sell a house in disrepair?
Sadly, many homes in probate are in fairly poor shape, often because the late homeowner was elderly or ill and unable to maintain it properly. If you choose to sell the house through traditional channels, such as through a Realtor, you will be responsible for making any necessary repairs to the house and making sure that is clean and presentable to potential buyers.
If you choose to work with Fast Home Help and we are able to make a cash offer on the home, we will buy the house “as-is.” You won’t have to worry about the condition of the house or whether it could eventually fall into foreclosure; you’ll simply be able to walk away from it with clean hands and a clear conscience.
Do I need the probate court’s permission to sell the home?
Probate laws vary from state to state. In certain states, the probate courts have considerable power over the actions of the estate administrator. In others, the estate administrator is able to make decisions regarding the sale of property relatively unencumbered by the court. If you decide that you want to work with Fast Home Help toward the quick sale of the home in probate, we can help you to understand your state laws and advise you as to whether we will likely be able to make an offer. Even if your state does require the approval of the probate court, we may still be able to make an offer that satisfies the court’s requirements.
Is Fast Home Help able to work with probate lawyers and estate administrators not related to the deceased?
Sometimes, courts are forced to appoint an estate administrator who is not related to the deceased simply because the position was declined by all eligible relatives. Regardless of who serves as administrator, the likelihood of one or more lawyers being involved in the probate process and other matters of inheritance is high, especially for larger estates.
Remember that any party involved with the administration of the estate that is not a relative of the deceased is essentially a creditor – that is, he or she will be getting paid (probably quite well) for his or her involvement. Lawyers and administrators are often glad to work with us toward the timely sale of a home in probate because, like all creditors, they want to be paid sooner rather than later.
If we are unable to work with you or the representative of your loved one’s estate, we will be forthright in telling you so.
If I sell the home in probate for less than market value, won’t I put myself at risk of being responsible for my loved one’s unpaid debts?
In most cases, absent any fraudulent acts on the part of the deceased or the heirs, heirs cannot be held liable for the debts of the deceased. If there are insufficient funds to cover the debts, state laws address how and to whom the funds will be distributed. Creditors that are not paid in full or even at all cannot generally take action against the family of the deceased in an attempt to recover debts.
Why should I work with Fast Home Help rather than a Realtor in selling the home in probate?
Please understand that the goal of Fast Home Help is, first and foremost, to educate homeowners and people who are facing tough decisions regarding real estate about their rights and options. Our primary objective is to provide people such as you with the information they need to make the best possible decisions given their circumstances. Sometimes, accepting an all-cash offer for a property is the best possible decision; sometimes, it isn’t. There are instances in which working with a traditional real estate agent might be in a person’s best interests. If this is true in your case, we will absolutely tell you so.
We do want you to be aware of an all-cash purchase of your home by Fast Home Help as a potential solution, however. The current state of the housing market makes selling a home through traditional channels a risky proposition for those who cannot afford (or who do not wish) to hold onto a property for months or even years while waiting for a deal to come through. Aside from the costs that can mount during the probate process, you will also be responsible for maintaining a vacant home. This can be a particular burden if the home in question is in another city or state.
Can We Help?: Request a Property Privacy Audit™
If we are able to purchase the home for cash, you will be able to put a large piece of the probate puzzle in place, without having to worry about the condition of the home or the possibility of it sitting unsold for months or years. Everyone involved in the probate process will also benefit from:
- A quick, easy sale at a fair price
- Funds that are deposited into the checking account of the estate within ten days
- The fact that no commissions, title fees, closing costs, or other fees will be deducted from the proceeds – every cent from the sale will go to the estate
- The ability to move forward with their lives after their tragic loss rather than remaining tied up in red tape
For further information about selling a home in probate, or to request a cash quote for the home, please contact the experienced real estate and financial experts of Fast Home Help today.
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I called Ron and to my amazement he had an all cash, quick close offer on my desk in 24 hours. He bought our property as is, so we didn't have to paint, repair, clean, or anything. It was a done deal and he gave me great peace of mind with the way he handled all the details. - Mitch L.