Probate is simply the process of administering a deceased person’s estate. And you have probably heard about how lengthy and anxiety filled the probate process can be. The reality, though, is that done right with the aid of an agent experienced in probate, it doesn’t have to be that way. The probate process itself can be a simple as four steps. So if you’re dealing with probate, here’s how a Houston agent can help you.
Dealing with Probate Process
Without a well-constructed trust in place, probate usually follows a person’s passing. It is the process by which the decedent’s debts are settled and the property held on his or her name transferred to beneficiaries and heirs. Usually, the probate process follows four steps:
1. First is the filing a petition with the probate court to admit the will and appoint an executor or, without a will, to appoint an administrator of the estate. A hearing date is set, and notice of the hearing is published locally.
2. After appointment by the court, the decedent’s personal representative gives notice to all creditors, and an inventory of the estate is made.
3. After determining which claims are legitimate, the personal representative pays all expenses, debts, and taxes from the estate. Sometimes, this involves selling estate assets to meet obligations.
4. Assets are disbursed per the decedent’s wishes expressed in the will or, without a will, according to the state’s intestate succession laws.
How a Houston Agent Can Help You in Dealing with Probate
Now, that seems fairly straightforward and pretty simple, and often it is. But if you are in fact dealing with probate, most experts advise using an agent well versed in the probate process for two very good reasons: probate sales required specialized knowledge and scams abound.
PROBATE SPECIAL KNOWLEDGE
A probate or trust sale of real estate is quite different from a typical real estate transaction. It requires special disclosures and a special listing agreement, as well as careful and assiduous attention to the intricacies of probate law. In addition, a probate sale calls for a unique marketing strategy.
In some cases, a probate real estate sale requires court confirmation. Your agent, then, must be conversant with all the legal requirements and court protocols. A good agent should also have strong working relationships with other probate professionals such as probate attorneys and paralegals and court personnel.
So a Houston agent can definitely help when you’re dealing with probate. Just make sure your agent has plenty of in-the-trenches probate experience for this specialized marketplace. Your agent must be familiar with the unique probate disclosures and the terms of the Probate Code in order to handle your sale accurately and with legal conformity.
There are a lot of scammers out there ready to prey on the emotionally vulnerable, especially those dealing with probate in Houston after the passing of a loved one. And here are a couple of their common tactics.
Inheritance/Estate Tax Scam – Some states still levy an inheritance or estate tax. Using a trusted person’s or organization’s name, scammers contact potential executors informing them that they stand to inherit a bunch of money. The only catch is that the victims must first send the scammers an inflated tax, which must be paid before probate can go forward.
Fraudulent Listings Scam – Scammers research the property of recently deceased individuals and advertise it for rent. Then, when the scammers collect the deposit and first month’s rent, they disappear, leaving the people dealing with probate to deal with the upset victim.
If you’re dealing with probate, then, an experienced Houston agent can definitely help you. Knowing what probate involves and being aware of the scams are good first steps, but there’s more to consider.