As defined by the American Bar Association, probate is the legal process wherein the court appoints the Executor to administer the estate and distribute assets to the right beneficiaries. Even if your family member’s property has no will, it can still go through the probate process if someone files for it in court (a claimant). Since no will means: no executor and beneficiaries were identified by the deceased, the court will be the one to identify an executor and decide who’s going to inherit the property according to the Rules of Intestate Succession.
The probate process usually runs for six (6) months or more, depending on how complicated or straightforward the estate is. For some people, this is too long. For others, an underwater house is not worth keeping. Hence the question of whether a house on probate can be sold or not.
The Probate Process in Georgia
Let’s recall. Not all homes are required to undergo a formal probate hearing in court. If a home is not under joint ownership and falls under Georgia’s small estate limit, a surviving relative can file for a small estate affidavit or “summary probate”. A small estate affidavit doesn’t involve a court hearing for assets to be distributed. However, if your house qualifies for a full probate proceeding in Georgia, this is what you can expect:
- Filing of the Decedent’s Will
The first step of the probate process is to find all the documents related to the home’s ownership — title, declaration, etc. If you’re unsure whether there’s a will or not, spend time and look around your family member’s belonging. Maybe there is one.
2. Court Validates the Will and Assigns an Executor
According to Georgia law, the application for probate should be filed in the county where the owner or your family member died — not where the property in question is located. Once you submit the documents, the court will validate them all, especially the will.
If an executor was named in the will, you have to contact that person. Otherwise, the court will assign an official administrator.
3. Submission of a Probate Petition
The official Executor has the right and responsibility to file a probate petition in court. Once it’s filed, the decedent’s rightful heirs are notified, and a public notice will be put up to inform any legal claimant. Claimants can include the property’s mortgage lenders and other people who can establish they have a right to the property as well.
4. Filing of the Estate’s Inventory and Payment of Taxes and Debts
Claimants will then report to the court how much they are owed for the house. At the same time, the Executor will pay all the necessary estate taxes and remaining debts.
5. Filing of the Petition to Discharge
Once all payments have been settled, the Executor will file for a Petition to Discharge. The Petition to Discharge allows the courts to transfer ownership of the property to the rightful beneficiaries.
How Can You Sell a Probate House?
Since the purpose of bringing the deceased’s house to probate is to protect it from any form of fraud, the usual question is that whether you can sell the home that’s still under probate. And the simple answer to this is yes. However, only the executor/administrator has the legal right to do so, considering that the proceeds will be used to pay the creditors/lenders. The house selling process can be started before Step 4 of the probate process.
Here’s how you can sell a probate house in Georgia:
- Court Sets a Listing Price
If the executor/administrator can establish that funds are needed to pay the creditors, the court can have the house appraised. Likewise, the court will be the one to determine how much you’re going to sell the house for.
2. Look for Potential Buyers
Once the court has set a listing price, the Executor can now put the listing on the market. They can contact brokers, do home showings, and do everything there is to do to find a buyer.
3. File a Permission to Sell in Court
Once the Executor receives a written offer from a buyer or buyers, they can now file for a Permission to Sell.
4. Beneficiaries/Heirs Are Notified
All beneficiaries and potential heirs are again notified that the house is up for sale. They have the chance to file for an objection. If no complaint is filed, the process will move forward.
5. The Appearance of Potential Buyers in Court
All buyers who submitted an offer will be called into court. If there is more than one buyer, bidding will be conducted.
6. Payment of At Least 10% is Handed Over to the Executor
If there is only one buyer or a bid winner has been identified, the buyer will have to give the Executor a cashier’s check that’s worth at least 10% of the agreed price. Once the house is sold, the probate process will continue, and the remaining proceeds from the sale will be distributed to the rightful beneficiaries.
If you need help selling your inherited home during probate, contact us at HomeSoldGA. We’ve had experience selling probate homes before, and we know exactly what to do to sell your home in the fastest time possible. To learn more about our services, don’t hesitate to contact us at 770-668-4888.