From Our “Ask a Question” Mailbag: “I am trying to buy a house that is in the name of someone who has died. How do I open the estate? My goal is property flipping and probate as easily as possible.”
Peter Klenk, Probate Lawyer.
Property Flipping and Probate, How To Get Good Title.
When a person dies owning real estate, probate is needed. Probate is simply the process by which someone becomes the legal representative of a deceased person’s estate. The court grants this person the power to gather the assets, pay the creditors, and then distribute the remaining assets.
It is an indication of a problem if a person has been dead for more than one year and a house is still in their name. More problematic, is a year has passed, and no person has been named the estate’s executor or an administrator. For example, in Pennsylvania, a Will names an “executor” while in New Jersey the same person is called the Personal Representative. In both states, if there is no Will the person appointed is known as the “Administrator.”
Deceased Property Owner, No Will and the Family In Conflict.
If you wish to buy real estate in a deceased person’s name and no estate is open, what can you do? First, we need to know the dead person’s family information. At their death, were they married? How many children did they ever have? Who were the parents? If you cannot find this information, we can help.
The family information leads to sorting out who, under the rules of intestacy, has the right to serve as the estate’s Administrator.
Once the heirs are known, we can work with them to have someone named as the estate’s Administrator. You, the buyer, likely do not wish to serve. If you do, then you have a fiduciary duty to sell the property at fair market value. Further, you have a legal responsibility to distribute the assets correctly. If you mistakenly give money to the wrong person, you could be personally responsible. Better to have us work with the family to have an accountable heir take on this job.
There are often complications. For example, the Administrator is usually required to secure a bond. The bond company pays the heirs if the Administrator steals the estate’s funds. In some families, there is no person with a credit rating high enough to secure the bond. Another example is when heirs are in prison and refuse to cooperate. Squatters in the property are another common problem.
There are ways around all these issues.
Once appointed, the Administrator is free to sell you the property. The Administrator is then responsible for addressing creditors and making proper distributions. You are free to develop your new property.
In Conclusion: Property Flipping and Probate.
Follow this link for more detailed information about the Probate Process Property Flipping and Probate.
When you have a deceased property owner, securing the property is essential. If relevant people agree this streamlines the Administration process. But, if family harmony isn’t possible, the responsible family members should move forward with a Petition as quickly as possible. But, sometimes they need help.
Let our Estate Litigation and Probate Lawyers help walk you through what can be a confusing process. To begin with, call to speak to one of our Estate Litigation Attorneys. By all means, our lawyers are ready to answer your questions. Feel free to contact our office for a free consultation. Ultimately our goal is to make the process as painless as possible!
Wills, Trusts, Probate, and Estate Litigation, It’s All We Do!