Can a House Be Sold While In Probate?
As you deal with your grief following the death of a loved one, you may also be struggling to understand the question, what is probate when selling a house? Probate is the process of settling the debts of a deceased person and distributing their assets to heirs. The probate process verifies that everything is carried out per the wishes of the decedent. But can a house be sold while in probate?
In some cases, you can sell a probate home in Florida. Understand when you can sell a house in probate and how doing so may be beneficial.
What is the Probate Process in Florida?
A house can be sold while in probate in Florida, as long as you follow these five distinct steps:
- Filing the Petition
According to Florida law, the executor must submit a valid will to the deceased’s county probate court within ten days of their death. The heir(s) must file a petition including these details:
- State where the property is located
- Contact information of the petitioner
- The name, most recent address, and personal information of the decedent
- Names and contact information of any surviving spouses and beneficiaries
- Existence of unrevoked wills (if there are no wills, you must note that you have done your due diligence to track one down, and it does not exist to the best of your knowledge)
- A statement declaring the will is deposited with the county probate court
2. Notice to Creditors and Beneficiaries
You must give notice to anyone who is considered a debtor or beneficiary of the deceased. Debtors then have three months in the state of Florida to contact you about any unsettled debts. Beneficiaries will need to be kept apprised of progress.
- Payment of the Estate’s Debts, Taxes, and Expenses
Due to illness or financial concerns at the end of the deceased’s life, there is a good chance they’ll have outstanding debts. You must also pay taxes for the year of the death and any expenses they accrued before they died. These payments are made through the estate, whether through the sale of assets or from cash savings.
- Property Transfers in Accordance with the Deceased’s Will or Local Law
Once the estate has paid all debts, taxes, and expenses, the remaining assets are transferred to beneficiaries as named in the will. The only exception is if assets must be sold to pay the estate’s debts, taxes, or expenses. Those must be paid before anything is distributed to the beneficiaries.
- Closing the Probate Estate
Once the estate’s debts, taxes, and expenses are settled, and the assets are distributed, the probate estate is formally closed through a petition to close the estate. Generally, this takes place ~6 months after the probate case is opened. It may take two years or more in complicated cases.
When Can a House Be Sold in Probate?
For a house to be sold in probate, one of the two conditions below must be met:
- The will contains a “power of sale” clause expressly granting the personal representative or executor the right to sell the real estate in question
- There is a court order from the county probate court if there is either no power of sale clause in the will or there is no will
If the deceased is survived by a spouse or the will specifically identify a living trust or specific home beneficiary through a quitclaim deed or other formal estate planning means, the property’s ownership automatically transfers to that person without entering probate.
How Do I Sell a House in Probate?
Selling a house in probate can be a long and challenging process. This is because, in addition to the logistics of it, you’ll also need the probate court’s permission.
When selling a house in probate, you’ll want to follow these steps.
- File an Intent to Sell Petition with the Probate Court
You’ll need to include the appraisal of the home and your strategy for selling (sale by owner or a realtor). Then, once the court approves, you can continue with the process.
- Understand the Details of the Home
Often, you may not know a lot about the house since it did not belong to you. You’ll want to check county property appraiser sites for the home’s specs and the county tax assessor site to see the status of the home’s taxes. You can also hire a realtor at this stage to help you do the work thoroughly.
3. Prepare the Home for Sale
Hire an inspector to take a thorough look at the house. Then, if any repairs need to be done, you can either pay for repairs through the estate if there is enough cash available to do so, hire contractors to do the work that will be paid for upon the date of sale, or sell the home “as-is” without doing any repairs.
- List the Home for Sale
You can do this yourself to save a commission, or you can hire a realtor. However, it’s highly recommended that you hire a real estate lawyer who has experience working with selling homes in probate, as there are added legal statutes you need to be aware of.
- Inform the Buyer of Probate
Because probate sales need the probate court’s approval, you’ll want to let the buyer know that while you have accepted their offer, the probate court must approve it, which can take a while.
- File a Petition for a Court Order Authorizing Sale of Real Property
Show proof of consent from all beneficiaries that they approve of the sale.
- Receive Court Approval of Sale
Once the court approves the sale, everything proceeds as it usually would for any other real estate sale.
Why Work with Meli?
For traditional buyers, the process of a probate sale may be too long. As a result, it may be challenging to find the right buyer. A home buyer like Meli is an excellent option for any probate real estate sale because we save you time and money in a high-stress situation.
There’s no need to involve a financial institution with Meli since we can either purchase your property outright or help you list it as a distressed property. This significantly speeds up the sale process so you can get paid fast and get the property off your hands. Because there’s no need to fix up the home, there is less financial risk when you work with Meli.
If we wish to purchase your probate property, you’ll receive a no-obligation offer from us, usually the same day as our walkthrough of the property, which you can accept or reject. Depending on if you accept, we close quickly so you can continue with the probate process, saving you money on fees accrued while the probate case is open. If we don’t buy your property, we can help you list it and support you through the process of selling your distressed property quickly.
Since we specialize in probate properties, you can rest assured that your probate sale with Meli abides by all Florida legal statutes governing the sale of probate real estate. Request a consultation with us today.