5 Things to Know about Probate in Real Estate

If someone in your family, owned vacant land or any other real estate, you may have to go through the procedure of probate if they pass away. The exact probate procedure will vary depending on the state you live in, however, it is one of the legal ways for you to become the owner of the real estate. The listed points are the 6 things you must know about probate in real estate.

1. Probate is a legal process

Probate will only take place when a will is determined to be authentic. If a will is present, the designated executor will set the probate process in motion. The designated executor will have to:

  • Find a probate attorney

A probate attorney will represent you while you undergo the procedure. They will help file documents with the court, collect life insurance money, figure out income taxes, and help you with other similar procedures.

  • File a petition with the local court

One has to file the petition with the local court of the deceased’s house. If the designated executor lives in a different city or state they’ll need to issue a confirmation statement regarding the initiation of the process. All listed beneficiaries in the will must also be notified about the initiation of the probate process. Probate in real estate hearings are public records. Therefore, the hearing date is expected to be listed in the local newspaper. If the deceased is indebted to anyone, they can assert their claims. 

  • Take possession of the estate

After petitioning the local court office, the executor has to take inventory of the real estate. The executor to gather estate planning documents including the will, power of attorney, burial, and funeral arrangements. The process also needs documents about the assets of the deceased including properties, cars, life insurance, bonds, and deeds.         

  • Notify the creditors and pay any legitimate claims

The designated executor has to identify legitimate creditors and pay out the claims made by them.

  • Transfer of assets to the beneficiaries

After the completion of all remaining procedures including taking care of the creditors, assets are legally transferred to beneficiaries.

2. The length of probate real estate depends on these factors:

  • The state laws
  • The presence of a will
  • The size of the real estate
  • Remaining amount of taxes and debts to be paid
  • The number of heirs

A typical probate procedure takes up to 24 months to finish.

3. Surviving spouses are included in the probate process.

Probate mostly takes place when there are no surviving spouses because assets are typically held jointly with rights of survivorship between the spouses. When a spouse dies, the property rights are transferred to the living spouse. After the last surviving spouse dies, a probate proceeding is held to pass the assets along to the beneficiaries in accordance with the will.

4. The probate process is not always required

As this process takes a lot of time and involves a good sum of money, going through probate is very inconvenient and people try to avoid it. Although, some states have laws under which probate is mandatory for properties above a certain value. For instance, if the value of the real estate is more than $75,000 in Texas, the executor will have to go through probate to claim the property/properties.

If the real estate is small enough, then probate can be avoided. Rather, the properties can be acquired by alternative legal procedures. In cases where the deceased person’s debts exceed their assets, probates are not even initiated.

5. In the absence of a will, the sale of the real estate is sometimes is administered by the court

When someone dies without leaving a will, they are said to have died “intestate”. An intestate property will go through the same process but with a few exceptions. The court appoints an estate administrator to take care of the process. The administrator needs to get a house inspection done and find an agent to sell the property.