What is a trust?

A situation in which one person (or entity) holds the legal title to a property for the benefit of another.

What is a probate?

Probate is the court-supervised administration of a decedent’s estate. The probate proceeding involves “proving the will” (if there is a will), appointing the personal representative, determining the decedent’s assets that are subject to probate, paying outstanding debts and disbursing funds to the beneficiaries. In some cases, the decedent’s estate includes real property that must be sold under the court’s supervision.

Why do some probate properties not require court confirmation?

If a probate property is a Trust Sale or if the Executor/Administrator of the estate has been granted “full independent powers” under the Independent Administration of Estates Act (IAEA), the sale may not require court confirmation.

If the Administrator has full independent powers, he or she may elect to list the property for sale. Once an offer is accepted, the estate’s attorney mails out a Notice of Proposed Action stating the terms of the proposed sale to all the heirs. The heirs then have 15 days to object to the sale. If there is no objection within 15 days, the sale goes through without any court hearing required. (Regardless of the details of the probate transaction, sellers are strongly encouraged to work with a professional probate attorney to protect the estate’s best interests.)

What do I need to do to prepare the property for sale ?

This depends on the Go To Market Strategy that is agreed to by the estate during our consultations. If it is sold “as-Is” to an investor it may be as simple as removing any personal property. If the property will be available on the MLS, DFW Probate Properties can recommend any repairs that may be required to bring the best value. We can recommend a number of qualified specialists to help you prepare the property for sale, including removing belongings,obtaining professional cleaning, and staging.

How can I choose the best list price?

DFW Probate Properties will provide you with detailed market data, called a Current Market Analysis (CMA). This includes the selling prices of similar properties in the neighboring area. It will also include in-depth information on recent sales in the area, such as price per square foot and the number of days the property was on the market. Taking into consideration the information in the analysis as well as other intangibles of the market, your agent will be able to help you determine a listing price that is appropriate for the market and will attract the greatest number of qualified buyers.

Once a property is listed, how will it be marketed?

DFW Probate Properties will should pursue a number of strategies to expose your property to likely buyers. They include signage on the property, internet advertising, direct mail, open houses for agents and the public and personal networking among successful agents who may represent qualified buyers. The agent will conduct showings for interested buyers and their agents, will answer questions about the property and will continue to promote the property in order to secure the highest offer. The agent should also communicate with neighbors in the immediate area, keeping them informed about the price and other details about the property. Your real estate agent will provide a written marketing plan and for explanations of how various types of marketing will benefit the sale.

Do I have to pay up front for all this marketing and advertising costs?

No, there should be no advertising or marketing up-front fees.

Is the paperwork different in a probate sale than a traditional real estate transaction?

Yes. In most real estate transactions, the seller is required to disclose information about the property, including defects, construction conducted without a permit, evidence of pest or water damage, etc. Because sellers of real property through probate, trust or conservatorship may never have lived in the property that’s being sold, special disclosure forms take this into account.

Should I use the same agent who helped me sell my own house?

You are free to choose any real estate agent you like, but it is important to remember that probate real estate sales are complicated legal matters. Most real estate agents are not experienced or well-versed in the probate process. It makes sense to choose an agent who specializes in probate and trust real estate, and who understands the intricacies of pricing, marketing and presenting such properties. Your agent will represent your interests throughout the transaction; being able to understand and explain the process is essential.

Have more questions?

We’re always available to answer them. We are sensitive to the need for confidentiality, clear thinking, timely explanations, aggressive marketing, astute negotiations and, in many cases, quick sales.

Probate Glossary Of Terms

Below are some commonly used probate terms defined:

Probate: Probate is the legal process of proving the validity of a will. Probate is also commonly understood to refer to the legal process in which the estate of a decedent is administered.

Decedent: Someone who is no longer alive.

Probate Court: The court with jurisdiction over the probate of wills and the administration of estates.

Will: A legal document that contains instructions about how a person’s property should be divided after death. Typically, a will also names a guardian for minor children, and appoints an executor to administer the estate in accordance with the decedent’s last wishes.

Testator (Testatrix): A man (woman) who makes a will.

Beneficiary:  A person or entity eligible to some benefit under a will.

Heir: A person who is statutorily entitled to inherit property from the decedent when there is no will specifying how it should be divided.

Intestate: A person who does without a will.

Intestate succession: The statutory scheme addressing who inherits the property of someone who dies intestate.

Administrator (Administratrix): A personal representative appointed by the Court to oversee the administration of an estate.

Exectutor (Executrix): A personal representative appointed by the testator to administer the estate in accordance with his last wishes.

Independent Administration:  A probate proceeding in which a personal representative of an estate is able to administer an estate with very little court supervision.

Dependent Administration: A probate proceeding in which the personal representative of the estate must seek and receive approval from the probate court for tasks related to the administration of an estate.

Probate assets: Assets such as real estate, vehicles, and bank accounts which are owned exclusively by a decedent which contain no provision for automatic succession of ownership at death

Non-probate assets: Assets that do not have to pass through probate to be transferred, including life insurance policies, pension plans, 401(k) plans, IRA’s, joint bank accounts, payable-on-death accounts, and property owned as joint tenants with right of survivorship.

Estate: All the property the decedent owned. (gross estate ) the total value of the assets as defined for estate tax purposes.

Estate tax:A tax imposed on the transfer of a “taxable estate” to a decedent’s heirs and beneficiaries.

Guardian: A person granted full legal and personal custody of a minor child.

Guardian ad litem: A person appointed by the court to represent and protect the interests of someone who is underage or incompetent.

Self-proving affidavit: An affidavit that affirms the will was properly signed by the testator in the presence of two witnesses who observed the testator signing his will and heard him or her say that it was his or her last will and testament. A self proving affidavit eliminates the need for witnesses to appear in a probate proceeding to affirm the validity of the will.