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What Is a Probate Sale? Definition, Uses and Importance.

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A probate sale is the sale of a deceased person’s property in cases where they died without leaving a will allocating the property to a beneficiary. The probate court has to determine how the property will be distributed reasonably among heirs, and as such, the property may have to be sold and the proceeds distributed.

A probate sale may also be required in certain rare cases where the deceased person leaves a will but doesn’t clearly state who gets the property. With the help of an executor, the family has to decide how to handle the property. This is how a probate sale is viewed in probate law.

In some other cases, a probate sale may also occur if the deceased has some unsettled debts to clear off. Property may have to be sold to pay off all creditors if the available liquid asset is insufficient to settle the debts.

In real estate, however, a probate sale is simply a home sold with a probate court’s permission.

Must a deceased person’s home be sold through a probate court?

When a person dies, leaving heirs and beneficiaries, the family seeks out a probate court to help distribute the estate whether the deceased has left a will or not. The moment the probate court takes charge of the estate, the court must approve anything that is sold through an appointed executor.

The court ensures that the terms of the will are clearly followed. If there is no will, the court follows the right procedures as the law suggests. The court may authorize this sale for reasons such as paying off creditors or settling beneficiaries where the deceased hasn’t left a will.

Probate sale procedure

When the probate court authorizes a home sale for any of the aforementioned reasons, the family, through the executor, hires a real estate agent to put the house on sale. There are real estate agents who are dedicated experts in probate sales and understand the right procedure and the best ways to discuss the terms with potential buyers.

When potential buyers see the advertisement, they come for an inspection, understanding that the home is on sale through the court. They agree with the family on the amount to pay for the house, and ownership is transferred once the court approves the sale. This can often take 30 days or more, depending on the peculiarities of the probate process.

Should you buy a probate sale?

Probate sales have advantages and disadvantages, and buying into a probate sale depends on whether you need the house urgently or at an unbeatable offer. If you are looking for a house to buy urgently, then a probate sale may not be the right step. 

This is because probate sales can take months to be approved, unlike regular real estate, which gets approved the moment payment is made. This results from several factors, including court procedures, adjournments, and certain peculiarities in the process. 

However, probate sales come at highly reduced rates, making them some of the best real estate deals one can find. Note that the prices are dropped so low because beneficiaries will not consider renovating or remodeling the home before a sale. This means that you must conduct an in-depth inspection of the house before deciding to pay for it.

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