Houses are one of the more valuable parts of most estates, not just financially, but also from a sentimental standpoint. This leaves many to wonder how their house will be handled through the probate process. The answer to that should, of course, be that it will be handled however the deceased would like it to be handled. That, though, is not always the case. It’s important that the estate plan be properly set up and the probate process be well-managed to ensure that the house is properly handled according to the desires of the deceased. Working with a quality probate lawyer can help make that happen.
What happens to a house in probate is generally a product of how carefully planning was done before the probate process began. There are many things that someone can do ahead of time to ensure that the house is handled the way they wish. If proper steps aren’t taken, then the court will be left to decide how the house will be handled. Some of the things that can happen for a house related to probate are:
A: Generally, the contents of a house cannot be removed before probate. This is because many of the assets in the house may be included in the probate process. To prevent someone from taking something like jewelry, family heirlooms, memorabilia, or anything else of interest that was designated for someone else, the contents of the house will be expected to be left alone until after the probate process is worked through.
A: The probate process is a lengthy, complex one that is meant to ensure that assets are distributed according to the wishes of the deceased after all debts, liabilities, and taxes are first paid. The sale of a house could occur during this process to pay those debts. The probate process involves:
A: A house can be sold while in probate. However, there are some limitations to the process. Typically, the sale would be a process that is done by the executor of the will but not without oversight from the court. For the sale to be approved, it must meet a minimum price. In this case, that minimum is 90% of the value that it was last appraised for, and that appraisal must have occurred within one year of the sale. Once a buyer and executor have agreed to a sale, the process will then shift to a hearing before the judge involved with the probate. Before the judge can approve the offer, they will first see if anyone else in the courtroom wishes to make a bid. This is because a probate sale should seek to receive the highest price for any asset in the estate. The initial bid, though, must be at least 5% plus $500 higher than the original buyer’s offer. If someone bids that much, there is an auction of sorts, with the judge setting the minimum. Once a final buyer is settled, there can be no contingencies once the judge approves the sale.
A: If you don’t want your house going through probate when you die, there is a solid option available to you. You could put the home in a living trust. The assets in a living trust don’t need to be listed in the probate process. This means that you can place the house in a living trust, manage that trust while you are alive, and be assured that the house will be dealt with according to your wishes, which are described in the trust, when you die.
For many, a house is one of the more important parts of an estate. It’s often one of the highest-value items in an estate. For some, it could be the same house that the family was raised in, with tremendous sentimental value associated with it. It’s important that what happens with the house after someone dies is exactly what the deceased owner wanted to see done with it. The same is true of the rest of the estate as well. If you’re looking to be sure that your estate and house are properly handled through the probate process, contact us at Sweeney Probate Law today.