Why Do I Need To Go Through Probate To Sell My Mom’s House?

Did you recently inherit your Mom’s house?  Not only are you dealing with the pain of losing a loved one, but simultaneously you are dealing with having to settle their estate.  I’ve written this article to help make the probate process as stress free as possible for you.

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Probate is the legal process of settling an estate after someone passes away.  Probate is necessary in order to sell your loved one’s house.  The Executor of the estate, appointed by the court, is responsible for paying off any debts and distributing any remaining assets to the beneficiaries.  Probate can be a long and costly process, but it is generally required in order to sell any assets.  Probate gives the Executor authority to settle the estate and ensures that all debts are paid and inherited property is distributed according to the wishes of the deceased. 

By going through probate, you can ensure that your Mom’s house is sold according to her wishes.

Can I sell my mom's house if she left me her will or if she didn't leave a will?

Inheriting a house can be a complicated process, especially if the owner dies without leaving a will.  With or without a will, the estate will need to go through the probate process before any assets can be sold. 

Probate is a legal process that involves valuing the estate and distributing the assets to the heirs.  If the house is the only asset in the estate, then the process can be relatively simple.  However, if there are other assets, such as stocks or bank accounts, then probate can be more complicated.  The best way to sell a house that is inherited is to first consult with an attorney or financial advisor who can help you navigate the probate process. 

If there is no will, who gets to decide what happens to the property?

If your Mom left a will, the court will approve the Executor of the will to carry out the instructions in the will.  If there is no will, the court will appoint an Administrator to manage the estate.  The Administrator will usually be a close relative of the deceased.  Either way, the Executor or Administrator will be responsible for paying any debts and taxes owed by the estate, distributing assets to the heirs, and selling any property that is not inherited. 

Probate can be a long and complicated process, so it’s important to consult with an attorney before starting.  Probate can also be avoided if the decedent left everything to a surviving spouse or if all of their assets are held in a trust.  In these cases, the property can simply be transferred to the new owner without going through probate. 

Probate is just one aspect of what happens when someone dies.  There are many other considerations, such as inheritance taxes and funeral expenses.  It’s important to plan ahead to make sure that your loved ones are taken care of in accordance with your wishes.

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Have a meeting with the family

By now you should have been appointed the Executor or Administrator of the estate.  You’ll need to decide whether to sell the house or have someone else inherit it.  Since probate can be a lengthy process, it’s important to make sure everyone is on the same page.  By sitting down and having a meeting with your family, you can avoid any conflicts or misunderstandings down the road.  Probate may be a difficult subject to discuss, but it’s crucial to have everyone on the same page before moving forward.

Something to consider.  If the house is paid off, you may be able to keep it as your primary residence or investment property. However, if you inherit a house that still has a mortgage, you’ll need to decide whether or not you can afford to keep up with the payments.  If you can’t afford the mortgage, you may have to sell the house.

Decide How To Sell Your Mom’s House

Once you’ve decided to sell the house, you’ll need to figure out how to do it.  You can hire a real estate agent to help you list and sell the house, this is the most common way that families sell houses.  The agent will handle all the marketing for you.  Or you can try to sell it yourself.  If you’re selling the house yourself, you’ll need to research the market value of the house and set a fair price.  You’ll also need to handle all of the paperwork and marketing yourself.  Depending on the condition of your Mom’s house, you’ll have to decide whether to make some repairs in order to get top dollar, or sell as-is.

Another option is selling to a local investor.  They typically don’t require you to fix or clean anything in the house before purchasing the house.  Oftentimes the investors will buy the house for cash versus having to go through a traditional loan.  But this option does come with a price.  They typically do not pay top dollar or fair market value, generally they will offer you less than fair market value.  One of the best ways to find an investor is to ask a realtor in your area who is well connected.  They may know of someone who is interested in buying the house that will not require you to make any repairs.

Deciding what to do with your Mom’s house can be difficult.  But if you take the time to consider all of your options, you’ll be able to make the best decision for your situation.

Are there a lot of personal items throughout your Mom’s house?

Consider clearing those items out before listing the house on the market.  If you know that there are items that you want to keep within the family, start going through and put all those items off to one side. 

For all other items that don’t hold any sentimental value, consider hiring an Estate Sale company.  They have the experience to help you organize all of the personal belongings.  They will let you know if something is worth selling or if it’s worth donating.   Hiring a professional is the third part that will help you avoid the emotional stress of letting go of your loved one’s personal belongings. 

This step alone will make it easier to sell the house when the time comes.

The two most important things to keep in mind are, honoring your Mom’s estate, and ensuring that you are able to handle the process.

What happens to the proceeds of the property after it's sold?

The proceeds from the sale of the house and all other assets during the probate process will go into an estate account.  Having the estate account helps keep a record of all the funds going into the account and all expenses being paid.  Once the estate is settled and all debts are paid.  The remaining assets are then distributed to the beneficiaries according to the wishes of the deceased. 

Final Thoughts:

If you are the Executor or Administrator of an estate and need to sell a property, it is important to understand the probate process.  This article has outlined what that process looks like, from start to finish.  Keep in mind that every situation is unique and you should always consult with an attorney if there are any questions or concerns. 

If you would like more information on the probate process in Illinois, or if you need a reference for a probate attorney.  Please feel free to contact me. I would be happy to help you.  My name is Maria Mastrolonardo, I am an Illinois Certified Probate Real Estate Specialist with RE/MAX Enterprises.  This is ALL I do; I help guide families through the process of selling real estate in probate and I would be happy to help you as well.

Call me today at: (630) 248-6077, or contact me here

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