It is never an easy time when you lose a loved one. It is more difficult when you have to manage a recently passed loved one’s property that is under probate. Sometimes, it is even necessary to sell the house while going through probate. However, unlike other types of home sales, selling a house under these circumstances presents unique challenges given the complicated steps and court confirmations required to fulfill the deal.
Can You Sell a House During Probate in Massachusetts?
The short answer is yes. Under the Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code, a house can be sold during probate as long as the seller can pass on a clean title to the buyer. However, numerous vital steps must be taken to ensure that the transaction is valid under the probate rules. The steps to undertake are as follow:
Determine whether you want to use a formal or informal probate process.
In Massachusetts, there is a formal and informal probate process. The formal process is typically used if there are disputes between the heirs or questions regarding the distribution of assets. Under this process, the Court must approve the personal representative’s actions. Given the Court’s close management of the personal representative’s decisions, this is highly recommended to be used for selling real estate during probate.
Whereas in informal probate, the process is conducted by a magistrate with minimal oversight over the personal representative’s actions and decisions. The personal representative files a sworn statement attesting that all his duties are fulfilled without any court scrutinizing his actions.
Get the house appraised by an independent certified appraiser.
An independent certified appraiser can assist you in providing a realistic value of the property. An appraiser could also offer you relevant information regarding the property, including possible foundation issues and external factors that affect the property’s value. Some of this information may even be relevant to disclose to potential buyers.
File the “License to Sell” petition and seek approval of the Court
Once the property has been appraised, the personal representative should file a petition in Court for a “License to Sell.” This is advisable even if the will has waived this requirement to ensure that the personal representative is protected from personal liability by obtaining the Court’s approval as they proceed with selling the property.
Here, the personal representative must fill out a petition form and provide details related to the sale of the property and sale method. During the “License to Sell” hearing, the heirs are allowed the opportunity to contest the sale of the property in Court.
Place the property for sale.
After the Court has confirmed the “License to Sell” petition, the house is formally placed for sale. During this period, you must inform your buyer that the house is under probate and that it will only be sold after the Court has confirmed the sale.
Buyer seeks confirmation of sale from the Court.
In Massachusetts, the buyer has to obtain confirmation from the Court to confirm a property’s sale under probate. A confirmation hearing can take place between 20 to 40 days after the court filing. It is important to remember that the buyer must obtain 10% of the buyer’s sale price before the date of the confirmation hearing.
Advertise the sale in the local newspaper.
Once the buyer has obtained confirmation from the Court for the sale of the property, the next step would be to advertise the property’s sale in local newspapers. This step is done to inform the public about the property sale during the probate period and serves as an invitation to other interested buyers to attend the court hearing to bid to allow the property to get the best price.
You must attend the hearing.
The following step is to attend the Court’s hearing as stated in the sale’s newspaper ad. During this event, buyers and real estate investors may attend to bid on the property. After the final bid is confirmed during the hearing, the final agreement is reached, and then the cashier’s check from the winning bidder is given to the Court for confirmation. If the winning bidder is a new buyer, the previous buyer’s payment is refunded.
Once you have completed these steps, the house’s sale under probate is valid as the seller would be able to pass on a clean title to the buyer to complete the contract.
The personal representative handles many essential matters during the probate process, and having to sell the inherited house on top of everything else can become a complicated undertaking. You will find it invaluable to work with a real estate expert who is experienced in this type of situation and can help you get top dollar for the house while helping you navigate the complex rules of selling a home during the probate period.
At Pavel Buys Houses, we are licensed real estate agents in Massachusetts that can help you sell the house while going through probate proceedings. If you don’t want the time commitment of selling the property the traditional way, we also buy homes fast in Massachusetts (and pay cash while offering fast closings!).
Our priority is making sure you have the advice you need to make the best decision for your situation.