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Probate Real Estate

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In almost every state in the nation, estates that have not been placed into a Living Trust before a person passes away must go through the probate process. Probate is the court-supervised legal procedure that ensures the proper people are given the rights to and responsibility for the decedent’s financial and physical assets. (Check out our Probate Glossary and FAQs for more in-depth information.) Many legal aspects of the probate process will be handled by your probate attorney. However, if the decedent’s estate includes property that you intend to sell during probate, you’ll also need a real estate agent with probate experience as a resource.

Even the simplest probate sales have specific rules and timetables that need to be followed according to the state’s probate laws; therefore the sale of a probate property will require significant additional experience and expertise to successfully close the transaction.

An otherwise experienced real estate agent may not know the correct probate procedures, have a good understanding of probate court rules, or have knowledge of probate-specific forms to be used when completing the sale. Keep in mind that if anything is incorrect at your final petition hearing, the probate judge will not sign off on the probate documents. A real estate agent with probate experience will know the probate-specific procedures, timelines and deadlines that a regular agent won’t—preventing costly mistakes that could delay proceedings and court approval. If a delay happens, the attorney’s fees can get expensive (you’re billed by the hour!) when they’re spending hours doing the work a probate agent would have done as part of their routine practice.

Most people don't discuss topics related to the death of a loved one in casual conversation, so you’re unlikely to find a good probate agent by word of mouth. When looking for a qualified agent to sell property in probate, it is imperative that you ask if they have ongoing experience selling probate real estate. You should also ask the agent to go into detail about their experience specific to probate, such as how many transactions they’ve completed and if probate is a significant part of their business. You might also ask them to tell you about specific properties they’ve sold recently. Ask about both the good and bad experiences they’ve worked through, and how they used their experience to successfully close the transaction.

Selling real estate during probate is a challenging task within the already complex probate process. It is very likely that difficulties will arise during the sale, so you need to be sure that your probate agent can clearly communicate these issues with you and offer solutions based on their experience in resolving problems and keeping things on track.

Experience selling probate real estate in the state where the property is located is one important qualification your agent needs to have. However, your agent should also have probate-specific training or certification.

The U.S. Probate Service offers specialized training in probate real estate to teach agents how to deal with the complexities of probate sales and court confirmation procedures. Agents who have received this training are known as Certified Probate Real Estate Specialists (CPRES). In order to receive this certification, an agent must undergo many hours of training and pass a test that measures their ability to handle complex probate sales and procedures. You should ask potential agents to tell you about the probate training and education they’ve had. Since probate experience is such an important qualification for your real estate agent, finding one that’s officially certified and experienced is the wise way to go and will give you peace of mind knowing their experience will enable them to get the job done in a timely, professional manner.
 

Please check out our glossary of probate terms and FAQs for in-depth information about the probate process.

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Dave Merrick is a Certified Probate Real Estate Specialist who has focused on probate real estate for the past five years. If you have any questions pertaining to probate, please reach out to him at davidmerrick@bellsouth.net or 678-393-0705.

DAVE AND CHRISTIE MERRICK
CHAPMAN HALL REALTY

6100 Lake Forrest Drive Suite 120, Atlanta, GA 30328

678-393-0705

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