It is pretty easy to sell real estate that has been in the family for generations or was just left behind in a Will. Probate sales are commonly seen in newspapers and online listing services. But what happens if you never knew if the property you are about to sell is owned by someone? Or perhaps you inherited a land only to find out it's tied up with an old probate case.
Several complications may arise when selling a home in probate. They include:
Two Types of Probates
When someone dies, their estate is usually handled by a probate court in the county they lived in. The process of a will being reviewed by the courts and distributed to inheritors is known as testate proceedings.
If someone dies without a will (intestate), known as intestacy, assets are distributed through heirship proceedings instead. It means, whether the case is testate or intestate, your real estate goes through probate before it can be resold.
Incomplete or Wrong Information
If a document tied to the property is submitted for review, it may contain incorrect information. For example, finding and selling a home can be challenging if a will includes real estate but doesn't include the exact property's address.
An example is inherited land in rural Maryland, where it's common to use landmarks to identify parcels.
Have you been charged for the sale of real estate from a probate case but have no idea who, if anyone, actually owns it? It can be due to missing heirs, people not finding the proper paperwork, or the claimant’s death before they could inherit the property. In such a scenario, selling a property can become difficult. Therefore, it's crucial to do your homework before attempting to sell an inherited property.
Lack of Documentation
In cases dealing with properties that are very old, it may get difficult to locate the required documents easily due to various reasons. You'd have to search through old county records or microfilm, hoping to find a clue on how to proceed. The more time that passes, the harder it’ll become to prepare to strike a deal on such a property.
Probate cases are named for individual inheritors, but properties are rarely transferred into their names alone. Titled real estate is then split into multiple pieces that are simpler to manage but also less valuable.
Purchasing one piece can leave you with an unnecessary extra cost by needing to buy another part, if it's even available, making your sale not as profitable as expected.
Difficult to Identify
The court system handles probates, so these cases are often not advertised or easily searchable. Unless one is specifically looking for inherited land, they may never find it. This means that buyers interested in buying probate property will need to research before making an offer. As a seller of such a property, it is crucial that you keep these things in mind.
Other Legal Challenges
Selling inherited property is even more complicated when the original family contests the sale. They may have had plans for what they wanted to be done with it or felt that an unfair split occurred on their behalf. This means legal proceedings are required to ensure all parties agree before the real estate can be resold.
These difficulties when selling a home in probate can make your life complicated. Before making any offers, do your research and get legal assistance. You may even want to hire a title company that knows about this area of real estate law. It could save you down the road from more headaches.
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