I have worked a number of home sales involving Probate Real Estate with some of the best Probate attorneys in the area. There are a few items that you need to pay particular attention to in order to get the maximum return on your inherited property in the shortest amount of time.
You already are experiencing enough stress. Please take a few minutes to learn how to avoid more stress by not making these common mistakes in Probate Real Estate.
The top 10 most common mistakes in Probate Real Estate.
1. NOT CHECKING FOR PERSONAL LIENS THAT THE DECEDENT MAY HAVE HAD.
It is becoming more common to find judgments, liens, child and spousal support and other matters that affect the property. Before you try to list the home for sale with a Realtor you should hire a probate specialist or attorney. You don't want to get to a week before closing to find these issues and have to postpone the closing and possibly lose your buyer.
2. NOT CHECKING FOR LIENS AGAINST THE PROPERTY THAT NEED CLEARING.
Old loans, encumbrances or judgments that were supposedly taken care of "a long time ago" may pop up in the title search. They must be taken care of before a sale can be made to the new owner. As an heir, you certainly can't be expected to know if these issues exist but it is your responsibility to see that they are taken care of before you sell.
3. DELAYS IN COURT PROCEEDINGS, FILING DOCUMENTS AND OBTAINING DOCUMENTS FROM THE COURT.
There can be any number of documents required for Probate depending on the circumstances. Some are required up front while others are required at the end of the court proceedings. Either way it is beneficial to have someone who knows the process to guide you through it. Why put stress on the buyer, the buyers agent, the buyers attorney, the buyers mortgage company, the judge, the support staff, not to mention you and your team because you think you can do it all yourself.
4. DELAYS IN REVIEWING THE DOCUMENTS RELATED TO PROBATE
The court, title company, attorneys, and mortgage company all need to review the documents for mistakes, errors or omissions. Be proactive, ask your attorney to submit the documents to a probate specialist at the title company prior to submitting them to the judge for approval and signature.
5. THE CLOSING AGENT DOES NOT PROACTIVELY COORDINATE BETWEEN THE BENEFICIARIES, TITLE COMPANY , ATTORNEY AND COURT
Some title companies make it a standard practice to wait 60 days. (For me that would be two mortgage payments due). Be sure you work with professionals who know what they are doing and how to get it done efficiently.
6. THE TITLE COMPANY DOES NOT PROACTIVELY COORDINATE BETWEEN THE BENEFICIARIES, CLOSING AGENT, ATTORNEY AND COURT
Just as above, if the title company the attorney chooses requires excessive paperwork for restrictive requirements then the transaction could seemingly drag on forever. It is to your advantage to have an attorney that has worked in the Probate arena.
7. THE TITLE REPRESENTATIVE (ATTORNEY) DOES NOT COORDINATE BETWEEN ALL PARTIES WHEN NECESSARY.
A good Probate attorney knows they are not able to do everything required by themselves. They have at least one good para-legal on staff to help coordinate the process. They work with efficient title companies. Their office is in contact with you, the seller, your Realtor, and your buyers attorney. They get the process done.
8. ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS DO NOT GET PROVIDED IN A TIMELY MANNER TO THE TITLE COMPANY
Sometimes clients provide copies of necessary documents instead of originals, and in some cases, copies of certified court documents, to the title company. Do you know if you need to provide certified court copies? A good Probate attorney does.
9. UNWILLINGNESS OF ANY OF THE INVOLVED PARTIES TO WORK WITH EACH OTHER TO GET TO CLOSING
Your Realtor has to have the experience to soothe over a lot of egos. They need to be able to go the extra mile to close the deal. You, as the seller, your attorney, the title company, the mortgage company, the appraiser, the buyer, the buyers' attorney, the buyers' Realtor, everybody thinks they are in charge of the whole transaction. Do you want to pay the attorney's hourly rate and call them with every detail that pops up or do you want to rely on a Realtor that has been there, done that and knows how to get it done?
10. COURT ORDERS THAT RESTRICT YOUR ABILITY TO GET TO CLOSING
Knowing what to submit to the court is crucial. What if you submit documents and then the lender, loan type, loan amount or any number of things change? Also, the court may think your submission is too vague and require more of you. At closing, who is receiving title, who is receiving payment, timing, etc., everything needs to be to the letter of the law. Remember point #4? Make sure a title company is involved along the way.
There is so much more involved in selling a home during the Probate process. Your first step is to get an experienced attorney in the Probate field. The attorney will be able to give you so much more advice then the few tips you see here, such as keeping the estate intact before selling. If siblings split up shares of the home and then try to sell what happens if one of the siblings "forgot" to tell you that they were behind in alimony or child support and have liens against them? Remember, all liens must be satisfied before a property can be sold. Better the estate stays whole in that case then to have to chip in to get resolution.
If I can be of any assistance please do not hesitate to call or text me.
Bridget Morrissey is a licensed Realtor in Connecticut and Rhode Island with eXp Realty. She has also been licensed in Connecticut for over 20 years for Health and Life Insurance. In 2018, Bridget was recognized with the Chairman's Excellence Award from eXp Realty. She is a multi-year Five Star Professional Real Estate Agent presented by Connecticut Magazine. The Eastern Connecticut Association of Realtors has recognized her with its highest recognition, Master Sales Award, and she is consistently in the Circle of Excellence. Formerly with RE/MAX, she qualified for both the 100% Club and the Executive Club. She is also a Zillow 5 Star Premier Agent. In 2013, Lt Governor Nancy Wyman inducted Bridget into the WOMEN OF FIRE [Finance, Insurance, Real Estate] presented by THE COMMERCIAL RECORD of Boston, Massachusetts. Bridget has volunteered for nine years as a facilitator of a program for Women in York Correctional Facility in Niantic and is a past Eucharistic Minister at St Mary Star of the Sea Church in New London. The Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce conferred its Membership Award on her in 2005. Her very limited free time finds her in her many gardens. She lives in Ledyard with her husband, Will, close to her two sons, daughters-in-law and five grandchildren in Stonington.