Dealing with a house in probate

If you are the executor of an estate, what must you know about real estate and probate of the estate? Much depends on whether the decedent had the foresight to place the property into a joint tenancy or a trust.

Failing that, there are some specific steps to take in order to remain in compliance with Nevada and federal laws.

Secure the property until it can be transferred to the heirs

This can be rather simple or quite complex. Assuming no battling beneficiaries exist, the house could wend its way through probate in a year or less. Meanwhile, your main duty is to ensure the property is secured both inside and out. File your petition as soon as you legally and practically can to get the process started.

If the deceased died “intestate,” or without a will, you will actually be appointed executor by the judge presiding over the probate case. The courts must follow intestacy succession laws to determine who will inherit the property. Just as in the above scenario, you must secure the home and its property and maintain it during the probate process.

Maintenance can include lawn care and general upkeep, like fixing a broken window, removing a downed tree and changing the locks. You may also need to ask the court to use money from the estate for repairs or a clean-out process.

When the property is to be sold, you may need help finding the right agent

Sometimes a property will need to be sold to settle an estate. Here, your probate law attorney can help you locate a listing agent who works with properties to be sold after probate. This is important because to get top dollar, work may need to be done to refurbish, repair and otherwise update the property.

While we are definitely in a sellers’ market now, it doesn’t take much to flip back to a buyers’ market. In that case, unless you are a craftsman who can make major repairs or pay for them out-of-pocket, you will need to rely on vendors willing to wait for payment for their services rendered. Your listing agent likely has established relationships with several who will do just that.

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