Probate is a legal process to identify and dispense the property of a deceased person according to a legal will. It also finalises any pending debts they had and concludes the legal life of the individual. Probate proceedings are public affairs with court records and documentation available for anyone to view. When homes, land and business property are involved in the probate process, the public-at-large may purchase of the property. These properties can be located before or after the property is publicly listed for sale.
- Skill level:
Know what type of property you want before starting the probate property search. Setting criteria by defining parameters like square footage, style and general location of the property will focus your search more effectively.
You may choose to ask a licensed real estate agent, especially one specialising in probate properties to help you find properties fitting your criteria. Real estate agents can be found advertising online, in newspapers and other print media, and telephone directories.
Begin a search ahead of property listings by looking for legal notices found in the local newspaper that announce a "Petition of Probate." Note the case file number and the name of the deceased. Visit the local probate court (check with county government offices to find out where the probate court is located) and speak with the clerk of the court to discover when the probate hearing is scheduled and when court records are available for review. The records reveal details about any properties that may be included in the proceedings. Contact the executor listed in the court documents to discuss the purchase of the property.
Read the obituaries and create a list of everyone who might have been a property owner. Using their names, search county property records to locate possible probate property--note the property address and any pertinent information the records provide. Send a letter or e-mail to the family or drive by the property to visit directly with them about purchasing the property.
Tips and warnings
- Remember that probate properties are associated with a family death. Approaching the family directly by knocking on the door of the property in question should occur with sensitivity and caution. Be brief and prepared with a business card and/or a letter stating the request.
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