If you’ve inherited a house, chances are that you’ll have to go through the probate process before you can sell it. Here are the basics of probate, which is the legal process you have to go through to legally inherit property and settle the estate.
1. Find a good probate attorney to guide you through the process. Your attorney will help you file a petition to start the probate process.
The first step in starting the probate process is to file a petition with the court. The person who initiates the probate proceeding is called the petitioner. The petition must be filed in the county where the decedent resided at the time of death.
If the decedent left a will, the petitioner must file the will with the petition. If the decedent did not leave a will, the petitioner must state in the petition that the decedent died intestate (without a will).
The petition must include the following information:
– The name, address, and telephone number of the petitioner
– The name and last known address of the decedent
– The relationship of the petitioner to the decedent
– A statement that the petitioner believes that probate is necessary
– A description of the property that will be subject to probate
– The names and addresses of the persons who will receive the property (the beneficiaries)
2. Notify all beneficiaries that you have petitioned for the probate process to begin.
After the petition is filed, the court will issue a notice to the beneficiaries. The notice will tell the beneficiaries that a probate proceeding has been started and that they have the right to object to the probate.
The petitioner must then serve the notice on the beneficiaries. The petitioner can do this by mailing the notice to the beneficiaries or by personally delivering the notice to them.
3. Take an inventory of the estate and get all of the important documents together–like the will and stocks or bonds.
If no one objects to the probate, the court will issue an order admitting the will to probate and appointing the executor. The executor is the person named in the will who is responsible for carrying out the decedent’s wishes.
If someone does object to probate, the court will hold a hearing to decide whether probate should be granted.
After probate is granted, the executor will have to follow certain procedures to probate the estate.
4. Then you’ll pay legitimate debts left by the deceased, like personal loans and credit card bills, using their estate.
These procedures vary from state to state, but they generally involve giving notice to creditors and paying debts.
5. Once all the debts are paid, you can petition the court to transfer the estate to the beneficiaries.
Once the probate process is concluded, you’ll have legal ownership of the house and can officially start the selling process.
You can start working with a real estate agent earlier to get an idea of the home’s value, but you can’t actually sell anything until the probate process is complete.