Dealing with probate can be a daunting and time-consuming task, especially after dealing with the loss of a loved one. In this post, we offer five things you should be aware of when dealing with a house in probate.
What Is Probate?
Probate is the process that occurs after someone passes away to pay off debts and to pass on inheritances to the heirs. While the laws vary from state to state, we are mainly concerned with the state of North Carolina for this article. To become the legal owner of a home after someone passes away, you may be required to go through the probate process depending on whether or not a will is present. When a will is present, an executor will already be assigned. However, if there isn’t a will, the courts will assign an executor to facilitate the process.
The Will Needs To Be Proven Valid
When someone passes away, the court will need to be notified to open a probate case. The will must be provided, along with documentation proving that it is valid. A few requirements of a valid will include:
- The intent of the will
- The legal age of 18 when signed
- Two witnesses were present to observe the signature and the date
The will needs to be created voluntarily, by someone who is of sound mind to do so in order to be considered legal with the courts. The main disadvantage of this process is the amount of time is takes to complete. The court system is usually backed up and the process can take months to complete.
Notify Creditors and Heirs
The court will appoint a representative who will:
- Assemble all the assets
- Pay the expenses (taxes, creditors, funeral costs, etc.)
- Distribute the left over assets (usually the house)
The money that is generated from the estate will be used to pay off all valid debts such as credit cards and personal loans. And don’t forget about Uncle Sam. When handling probate, you’ll need to file tax returns for the deceased and address any inheritance taxes that are due.
Assembling The Assets
In addition to real estate, the courts will need to know about other investments such as stocks, bonds, cards, deeds, bank accounts, or any other high-value items. These items will be taken into account when paying off debts from entitled creditors as well as when assets are distributed between beneficiaries. It is common for conflict to occur among the beneficiaries regarding payment of debts and distributing money.
For this part of the process, it is a good idea to work with a probate attorney to ensure everything is properly discovered and accurately recorded.
The Process Can Be Time Consuming
If you are responsible as the executor of the estate, you may find yourself dealing with paperwork, phone calls, and court hearings that can take up a good amount of time. When a will is present, things will typically move along faster than if one wasn’t. Having a will puts a plan in place leaving little to be decided by the courts. Some probate cases can be wrapped up in a matter of months, while others can take a couple of years to be completed. Having everything together ahead of time will make the process go much more smoothly.
You Can Sell The Property While In Probate
A quick and easy solution for a house in probate is to simply sell it. The biggest variable is whether or not a will is present. If there is no will present than the estate is considered to be “intestate.” In this situation the house will need to be sold through the probate courts, which is a highly regulated process and expensive process.
However, if there is a will present then the estate is considered to be “testate.” The executor will be able to petition the courts to sell the property on their own. This is ideal for those who want to avoid court costs while retaining more control of the process. For those who want to save even more money, quickly selling your inherited property to a professional buyer who is familiar with the probate process may be the best way to go. When you work with Wake County Home Buyers, you won’t have any of the expenses you will likely incur when working with a Greenville NC real estate agent. For example, you won’t be faced with commissions, repair costs, or marketing expenses.
In some cases, heirs can be surprised by property left to them in a will. They may not want to keep it or be financially prepared to do so. When the latter is the case, spending money on repairs, upgrades, and other listing costs will likely be out of the question. By selling their inherited Greenville NC house directly, they’ll be able to quickly sell, pay off debts and divide the sale proceeds amongst the heirs as laid out by the court.