Probate, Trust and Adjudicated Sales December 5, 2023

Selling an Inherited Home? Here’s Your Complete Guide to Navigating the Probate Process

Selling an Inherited Home? Here’s Your Complete Guide to Navigating the Probate Process

Selling an inherited home can be emotional and overwhelming, especially when you have to navigate through the probate process. From legal complexities to emotional attachments, there are many factors to consider. But fear not! In this complete guide, we will walk you through the probate process step by step, ensuring you have a clear understanding of what to expect.

Whether you’re a first-time heir or an experienced executor, this guide is designed to provide you with the knowledge and strategies you need to successfully navigate the probate process when selling the home. We’ll cover everything from assessing the value of the home and understanding the legal requirements to preparing the property for sale and finding the right real estate agent.

With our expert tips and insights, you’ll be empowered to make informed decisions, minimize stress, and maximize the sale of your inherited home. So, let’s dive in and unlock the secrets to a successful probate sale.

Steps to take after inheriting a home

The probate process is the legal process by which a deceased person’s estate is settled. It involves validating the deceased person’s will, identifying and appraising their assets, paying off any debts or taxes, and distributing the remaining assets to the rightful heirs. When it comes to selling an inherited home, the probate process can add an extra layer of complexity.

The first step in navigating the probate process is to understand the specific laws and regulations in your jurisdiction. Each state has its own rules regarding probate, so it’s important to consult with an attorney who specializes in probate law. They can guide you through the necessary steps and ensure that you comply with all legal requirements. Estates that involve real estate will most likely require court interaction or consent. Although it may seem expensive, we believe that hiring a probate attorney is money well spent!

Once you have a clear understanding of the probate process, it’s time to gather all the necessary documents and information. This typically includes the deceased person’s will, death certificate, property deeds, and any relevant financial records. Having these documents readily available will help streamline the probate process and make it easier to sell the inherited home.

Before you can undertake selling the inherited home you will need Letters and Orders from the court naming you as the administrator and giving you authority to sell. That authority may be full or partial, which determines if a court confirmation is required prior to closing the sale.

Secure and take inventory of the home

After inheriting a home, there are several important steps you should take to protect your interests and ensure a smooth probate process. First, notify the relevant parties, such as the executor of the estate, the attorney handling the probate, and any co-heirs or beneficiaries. This will ensure that everyone is aware of the situation and can provide any necessary documentation or assistance.

Next, you’ll want to secure the property to prevent any unauthorized access or damage. Change the locks, install a security system if necessary, and make sure the property is adequately insured. This will give you peace of mind and protect the value of the inherited home during the probate process.

It’s also important to conduct a thorough inventory of the home and its contents. Take detailed photographs or videos of each room, noting any valuable items or unique features. This will help ensure that nothing is lost or damaged during the probate process and will assist in determining the value of the home.

Determining the value of the home

Determining the value of an inherited home is a crucial step in the probate process and will help you make informed decisions about selling the property. There are a few different methods you can use to assess the value of the home. However, in California, a judge will most likely appoint a referee to establish initial value. The referee is typically trained as an appraiser.

Since the referee establishes the base value for the court’s purposes, you likely won’t need to hire an appraiser your self. However, we recommend getting a qualified second opinion.

For that, we recommend you consult with a real estate agent who specializes in probate sales. They will have a deep understanding of the local market and can provide you with a comparative market analysis (CMA) to estimate the value of the home. A CMA takes into account recent sales of similar properties in the area to help determine a fair listing price.

Lastly, you can also research recent sales of similar homes in the area yourself. Websites like Zillow and Redfin provide public records of recent sales, allowing you to get an idea of what similar homes are selling for. While this method may not be as accurate as an appraisal or CMA, it can still provide a rough estimate of the home’s value.

Selling options for inherited homes

When it comes to selling an inherited home, you have several options to consider. The best option for you will depend on your specific circumstances, the condition of the home, and your financial goals.

One option is to sell the home on the open market through a traditional real estate sale. This involves listing the home with a real estate agent, marketing it to potential buyers, and negotiating offers. This can be a time-consuming process, but it often yields the highest sale price, especially if the home is in good condition and located in a desirable neighborhood.

Another option is to sell the home directly to a real estate investor or cash buyer. This is often a faster and more convenient option, as you can bypass the traditional sales process and sell the home as-is. Real estate investors are experienced in buying inherited homes and can often make a fair cash offer within a short timeframe. While the sale price may be lower than what you could achieve on the open market, this option can be a good choice if you need to sell the home quickly or if it requires significant repairs.

A third option is to retain the inherited home as a rental property. This can be a good option if the home is in a desirable location and you’re willing to take on the responsibilities of being a landlord. Renting out the property can provide a steady stream of income and allow you to defer the sale until the market improves or until you’re ready to sell.

Ultimately, the decision of which selling option to choose will depend on your personal preferences, financial goals, and the specific circumstances surrounding the inherited home. Consulting with a real estate professional can help you weigh the pros and cons of each option and make an informed decision.

Preparing the inherited home for sale

Before listing the inherited home for sale, it’s important to take the time to prepare the property and maximize its appeal to potential buyers. Here are a few key steps to consider:

1. Declutter and clean: Remove personal belongings and clutter to make the home feel more spacious and inviting. Clean every room thoroughly, paying special attention to kitchens, bathrooms, and floors.

2. Make necessary repairs: Address any obvious repairs or maintenance issues, such as leaky faucets, broken windows, or damaged flooring. These small repairs can make a big difference in the overall impression of the home.

3. Stage the home: Consider staging the home to showcase its potential and help buyers envision themselves living there. This may involve rearranging furniture, adding neutral decor, and creating a welcoming atmosphere.

4. Enhance curb appeal: First impressions matter, so make sure the exterior of the home is well-maintained and visually appealing. This may involve landscaping, painting the front door, or adding potted plants.

Taking the time to prepare the inherited home for sale can help attract more potential buyers and increase the likelihood of receiving competitive offers. Remember to consult with your real estate agent for personalized advice on how to best showcase the home’s unique features and appeal to the target market.

Finding the right real estate agent

Choosing the right real estate agent is crucial when selling an inherited home. An experienced and knowledgeable agent can make a significant difference in the success of your probate sale. Here are a few tips to help you find the right real estate agent:

1. Look for experience in probate sales: Selling an inherited home comes with its own unique challenges, so it’s important to find an agent who has experience in handling probate sales. They will have the necessary knowledge and expertise to guide you through the process and ensure a smooth transaction.  Preferably find an agent who is also certified in probate and trust sales.

2. Check for local market knowledge: An agent who is familiar with the local market will have a better understanding of the value of the inherited home and can help you price it competitively. They will also know how to effectively market the property to potential buyers and negotiate offers.

3. Ask for references and reviews: Don’t be afraid to ask potential agents for references from previous clients or to read online reviews. This will give you a sense of their track record and the level of satisfaction their clients have experienced.

4. Interview multiple candidates: Take the time to interview multiple agents before making a decision. Ask about their marketing strategies, their approach to negotiations, and their communication style. Choose an agent who you feel comfortable working with and who aligns with your goals and expectations.

Remember, the right real estate agent can make a significant difference in the success of your probate sale. Take the time to find someone who understands your needs and can provide the support and guidance you require throughout the process.

Marketing and showcasing the inherited home

Once you’ve determined the value of the inherited home and found the right real estate agent, it’s time to market and showcase the property to potential buyers. Effective marketing can significantly increase the visibility of the home and attract more qualified buyers. Here are a few strategies to consider:

1. Professional photography: Hire a professional photographer to capture high-quality images of the home. These photos will be used in online listings, brochures, and other marketing materials, so it’s important to make a great first impression.

2. Online listings: Ensure that the inherited home is listed on popular real estate websites, such as Zillow, Redfin, and These platforms have a wide reach and attract a large number of potential buyers.

3. Virtual tours: In today’s digital age, virtual tours have become increasingly popular. Consider creating a virtual tour of the home, allowing potential buyers to explore the property from the comfort of their own homes.

4. Open houses and private showings: Host open houses and private showings to give potential buyers the opportunity to see the home in person. Work with your real estate agent to create a schedule that maximizes exposure and accommodates interested buyers.

5. Targeted advertising: Utilize targeted online advertising to reach potential buyers who may be interested in the inherited home. This can include social media advertising, Google AdWords, or targeted email campaigns.

Remember to work closely with your real estate agent to develop a comprehensive marketing strategy that aligns with your goals and target market. They will have the expertise and resources to effectively market the inherited home and attract qualified buyers.

Negotiating and accepting offers

As offers start to come in, it’s important to carefully consider each one and negotiate the terms that best align with your goals. Your real estate agent will play a crucial role in this process, providing guidance and expertise to help you make informed decisions. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

1. Review each offer in detail: Take the time to review each offer carefully, paying attention to the purchase price, contingencies, financing terms, and closing timeline. Consider consulting with your attorney or financial advisor to ensure you fully understand the terms and implications of each offer.

2. Don’t focus solely on the purchase price: While the purchase price is an important factor, it’s not the only one to consider. Take into account other factors such as the buyer’s financing, contingencies, and closing timeline. A higher offer may not always be the best option if it comes with unfavorable terms.

3. Negotiate when necessary: If you receive an offer that doesn’t meet your expectations or has unfavorable terms, don’t be afraid to negotiate. Your real estate agent can help you navigate the negotiation process and advocate for your best interests.

4. Consider backup offers: If you receive a strong offer but are not completely satisfied with the terms, you can consider accepting it as a backup offer while continuing to market the home. This can provide a safety net in case the primary offer falls through.

Once you have accepted an offer, it’s important to stay organized and ensure that all necessary paperwork and inspections are completed in a timely manner. Work closely with your real estate agent and attorney to ensure a smooth closing process and to address any potential issues that may arise.

Closing the sale and distributing the proceeds

Once escrow closes, they will pay off any existing mortgage, property taxes, and liens against the property. They will then pay the remainder of funds to the estate. Be sure to discuss with your attorney before you make any payments from this account.