Losing a loved one is a really hard thing to go through. There are so many things to get in order and many complex steps one must take before the probate process can begin. But what happens when someone passes and leaves a home or property behind? 

In Illinois, property is subject to probate if it is solely owned or if all assets total $100,000 or more. Any property that fits these guidelines must go through the probate process. When real estate is in probate, how the property will be distributed is determined according to either a will or by order of the court. One thing the courts look at is who did the decedent want the property to go to, and are they willing to take on the responsibility of ownership? 

When A Beneficiary Doesn’t Want The Property

Oftentimes, a beneficiary, in which the real estate is intended to transfer to, is unable or unwilling to take ownership of the property. They might be unable to afford the expenses that come with owning a home or perhaps, they don’t live in the area and are not looking to relocate.  In these cases, what happens to real estate? What are the beneficiary’s options? 

A beneficiary may choose to sell a house in probate. These sales can benefit real estate investors as the intended beneficiaries are eager to sell the property and are more lenient on the price they’re willing to let go of it for, so, it is important to work with a real estate agent even though a probate case is in place. However, the selling process for probate real estate can be more complex than initially anticipated. 

A person in a pink button down holds the keys to a home they acquired through probate real estate.

Selling Probate Real Estate

While most people know they need to hire an experienced real estate agent to aid in this process, hiring a probate and real estate attorney is a necessary, often overlooked step in the sale of probate real estate. Probate is a lengthy, confusing process that requires a lot of knowledge and expertise. An experienced attorney can help guide you through the court process and help you with all the necessary paperwork (there’s a lot). An attorney can help you collect money from the estate such as life insurance policies along with payments of any debts against the estate. A real estate attorney can review any paperwork from a real estate agent or a potential transaction to make sure you don’t fall into any unexpected traps or loopholes while selling a house in probate. Everything must be in order for you to legally sell a house in probate and an attorney can protect your interests. 

A probate real estate attorney signs a document as orange sunlight gleams through a window

 You need an equally experienced real estate agent for the successful sale of your property. Probate is very complicated, and having a team of professionals helping you with the sale of your home can ensure the best possible outcome and make sure every step you take to sell the property is legal. With the proper guidance, your real estate agent can help you with a speedy, cost-efficient transaction. The sooner you get the probate process in order, the sooner you can set up a listing agreement with your agent. A listing agreement is a contract between a homeowner looking to sell a house in probate and a real estate agent or company. It grants an agent the right to sell the property.

In the unusual case that an executor cannot be agreed upon by a family, a realtor may be appointed receiver by the courts. It then becomes their responsibility to sell the home as quickly and efficiently, and for the highest price possible as is approved by the court. A real estate agent will determine a listing price for the real estate through the appraisal process. An appraisal is simply a way to assess the market value of a property. After the listing price is set, it can then be marketed and sold for, hopefully, the highest offer. 

What happens when an offer is made on the property that the owners accept? The real estate agent must draw up terms that both parties agree to. It is best to review this document with your real estate attorney before agreeing to anything. They can protect you from signing something that will harm you later on or from getting a bad deal. After both parties have signed the deal, all beneficiaries must be notified of the sale of the property. They have a certain period to object or place a claim against the sale of the property. If no one comes forward, the official sale will take place in court.

If you are selling a house in probate, get in touch with a real estate or probate attorney to get started. They can guide you through the necessary steps and help you reach out to a real estate agent. If you are in Chicago IL or surrounding areas, contact Mark Schottler for a free 30-minute consultation. You can set one up here

Mark Schottler is a Chicagoland attorney with over 20 years of experience working both in probate and estate planning law and in real estate law. He puts his extensive knowledge on these subjects into easily consumable articles that will help and advise the public. Mark Schottler has a passion for probate and uses this to create relevant articles that are informative and entertaining. *While these posts may detail general legal issues, it is not legal advice. Use of this site does not create an attorney-client relationship.