Losing a loved one is tough. Making things more difficult is finding yourself in a situation where a family member passed away but did not draw up a will. In this case, you could be left to deal with selling their home or property, leaving you unsure of what you can and cannot do. But don’t worry, that doesn’t mean you have to let the house sit there because there isn’t a will.
A will is a legal document that explains what someone expects to happen to their belongings after death. It is also sometimes called a last will and testament. A will can include who gets what assets, how to distribute those assets, and instructions for the care of minor children or pets, if applicable.
(The situation is a little different if you have legally inherited a property through a will. There may be other things you may want to consider if siblings inherited the home as well.)
You will want to ask these six questions before selling any inherited property.
Is it possible to sell a house without a will?
Yes, it is possible to sell a house without a will. If there is no will, it would likely be up to you or one of your close relatives to step up as the executor. By doing so, you can take control of the assets in question.
But it is important to understand you will need to go through the probate process before putting that property up for sale or contacting an agent. Probate is what gives you the legal standing—and protection—to sell the house in the absence of a will.
The probate process is the legal procedure by which an estate passes from a deceased person to their heirs or other beneficiaries. It typically includes gathering and organizing the decedent’s assets, paying debts and taxes owed by the estate, and distributing whatever money or property remains among those entitled to inherit it under local laws. The probate court supervises this process. The court ensures that everything happens according to the law to avoid disputes between family members later down the road—which could happen if someone thought they’d get something but didn’t.
There are a few additional steps in this probate process when there is no will.
(Even if there was a will, you could still have a probate hearing to ensure the paperwork is in order and everyone follows all applicable state laws and the wishes of the deceased. However, the legal representative who filed the will with the proper authorities manages that hearing.
What is the probate process without a will?
When someone dies without a will, their property is distributed according to the laws of intestate succession. We refer to this process as “intestate” or “no will” probate or “an estate without heirs.”
You must petition the local probate court to hold a hearing if you want to sell a house without a will. Typically, this must happen within three months of the late owner’s passing. The probate court will then appoint an administrator or executor to manage an estate (the assets of the person who has died). According to most state laws, the administrator is responsible for paying off the deceased’s debts and taxes, plus distributing any remaining property, as described above.
The intent of this probate process is as described above, but you ask the court that you (or your close family member) be named to handle the estate without a will.
Once I am appointed administrator or executor, then what?
Once you are appointed the administrator of an estate without a will, here’s what you need to know the probate process can take months with all the necessary steps to complete effectively. The average probate intestate process can take more than six months to complete.
As administrator of an estate without a will, you have several duties, which includes:
- Giving notice to creditors and heirs
- Paying debts and securing assets (e.g., real property)
- Filing tax returns for the deceased person’s income and gains during their lifetime (estate tax on assets transferred at death)
The cost of probating an estate depends on each state’s laws and the size of the estate. However, they are almost always higher than when a valid will is in place.
It is also important to note that each state often has its protocols for the probate process, especially when it comes to assets like real estate. While these probate protocols can be straightforward and handled independently, the process can also be confusing–especially while grieving. If you have legal questions about selling property in the state the house is located in, you may consider consulting an attorney who specializes in estate law. Often, you can meet with an attorney for a nominal fee, or even for free, to discuss your situation and clarify any issues that may arise. An attorney can help you understand the law in the particular state and explain how it applies to your specific situation.
At any rate, you will need to go through the local probate court or the appointed estate administrator (if you declined to be appointed) before selling or transferring ownership of the house in question. Once that process occurs, you can sell the house without a will in place.
Fortunately, Meridian Trust makes selling that property fast, easy, and reliable. As a homebuying company, we pay cash for inherited homes, townhomes, condos, apartments, and multi-family units in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama. With more than 15 years in the industry and thousands of homeowners helped, we are the trusted experts in real estate transactions.
To find out how much you might get paid to sell an inherited property, give us a call at (954) 807-9087 or fill out this simple form today!
Note: This guide is for informational purposes only. Meridian Trust does not guarantee the sufficiency of the content in or linked to this blog post or that it complies with current law. The content within this blog post is not a substitute for legal advice or legal services. You should not rely on this information for any purpose without consulting a licensed lawyer in your area.
|cookielawinfo-checkbox-analytics||11 months||This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookie is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Analytics".|
|cookielawinfo-checkbox-functional||11 months||The cookie is set by GDPR cookie consent to record the user consent for the cookies in the category "Functional".|
|cookielawinfo-checkbox-necessary||11 months||This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookies is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Necessary".|
|cookielawinfo-checkbox-others||11 months||This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookie is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Other.|
|cookielawinfo-checkbox-performance||11 months||This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookie is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Performance".|