The answer to the often-asked question “Can a house be sold while it is in probate?” is “Yes.”
But you must adhere carefully to your state’s pertinent rules and regulations. The probate court will monitor every step and all aspects of the sale, and if you’re the executor, you, too, must monitor and approve all the terms of the sale. It can be a complex process, but understanding it will make things a little smoother.
Can A House Be Sold While In Probate?
Appointment of Administrator/Executor
If the decedent’s will designated a specific person as the executor and that person is willing to act in that capacity, then he or she is officially appointed as the executor. If on the other hand, no one has been designated as executor in the will, then the court and/or other relatives will appoint a near relative to act as administrator.
The next step is to have the property appraised. But you must make sure the appraiser you choose is a licensed, reputable appraiser. The property must sell at a price that is at least 90% of the appraised value, so you need an appraiser who can get it right.
This is the step where the answer to “Can a house be sold while it is in probate?” begins to become a reality. And you’ll start by having your agent list the house on a multiple listing service so that buyers will know it’s a probate sale.
An interested buyer makes an offer along with a 10% deposit, an offer which you can accept or reject. If you do accept it, the offer is then subject to court confirmation. You must submit the offer through your probate attorney to the court for confirmation. If everyone is in agreement, then a date is set for the sale to be finalized in court.
When the offer on the house in probate has been accepted and confirmed by the court, a Notice of Proposed Action must be mailed to all the heirs. This document states all the terms and conditions of the proposed sale. Heirs then have 15 days to review the notice and raise objections if they have any. If none of the heirs has any objections, the sale can go forward without a court hearing.
Now, here’s where it gets a little complicated. Before the court confirms and approves the original buyer’s offer, the judge will ask those present in the courtroom if any of them would like to bid on the property. If no one does, then the sale proceeds in the standard fashion mentioned above.
If, however, there is an overbid, the original buyer’s 10% deposit must be refunded before the new sale at the new bid price can proceed. When the overbid is accepted, the new buyer must then put up a 10% deposit, which is required to be a cashier’s check. This check for the accepted overbid deposit is presented to the executor/administrator at the winning bidder’s acceptance hearing.
Upon court confirmation and approval, a contract can then be signed. But it is a specialized kind of sale contract because it cannot have any contingencies, and escrow closes soon after the hearing, usually within 15 days.
As you can see, there are some complicated rules for selling a house while in probate. It is advised to consider contacting an attorney for more specific help.