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7 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Selling Probate Property

Did you know the average amount of inheritance in the US is almost $177,000? Much of this is often in the form of property. But if you become designated as an executor, how can you avoid the many pitfalls of selling probate property?

That comes from knowing the mistakes well in advance. Read on as we discuss seven common mistakes to avoid when selling probate property. 

1. Not Getting Experienced Professional Help

When selling probate property, you can use a real estate agency or cash home buyer if you want the process to be quick and easy. You will also need and an attorney. In both instances, you must ensure that they have relevant, recent probate experience. 

The agent is there to take you through the details. They will be able to tell you about documents and contracts specific to probate law. All of this requires detailed knowledge of your state’s probate regulations, which inexperienced agents may not have. 

The attorney will prepare the legal documents. They will file the probate petition and speak to the judge on your behalf. Finally, any finances relating to income tax and life insurance will also be addressed by them. 

When finding an attorney, ask how many probate cases they have worked on in the past. Do the same for real estate agents, but also ask them to explain the difference between probate and traditional sales. You may also check to see if they have any formal certifications related to dealing in probate real estate. 

2. Leaving the Property Vacant

Very often the process of probate is made much harder as many people are dealing with grief. To combat this, many people can have probate properties that they choose to leave unattended for a long period of time while they process this traumatic period. In other cases, the house may be left unattended due to conflicts in the people who have a stake. 

This can lead to a number of problems. A vacant property quickly accumulates problems, as no one is around to keep it maintained. This means that broken heating systems, dilapidated roofs, and overgrown gardens can devalue the property itself. 

3. Selling Because You Are a Listed Executor

The executor is the person named by the deceased, to carry on their wishes in regard to their estate. If no executor is named, then a court will often appoint someone to do this. 

Just because you are named as the executor, does not mean that you have the right to sell a property. A court has to first appoint you to this position. 

Once appointed, an attorney will then help you get the many documents needed. When filed, this will result in a Letter of Administration or Testamentary, giving legal jurisdiction to oversee the estate. From here, you may begin the process of selling the property. 

4. Overlooking Disclosures

A real estate disclosure is a legal requirement in which you must disclose everything you know about the home before someone buys it. This protects potential property buyers in the event the home has major problems or defects. 

Generally, an inspection will be done that can tell the buyer everything about the plumbing, structure, electrics, and other systems. However, in probate homes, it can get even more complicated. 

Very often, the person who has passed away may not have been occupying the property. Perhaps they were in a care home or hospital, or the home may have been rented out. Owner-occupied disclosures are not applicable. 

This means someone has to be liable. Luckily, as an executor, you are unlikely to be held responsible for this. You should however consult your designated, experienced agent and attorney to double-check. 

5. Not Understanding the Market

Like any type of property sale, not understanding the market can cost you a lot. However, homes in probate have a few major differences compared to non-probate properties. 

The first is that you really don’t have a choice about when you sell. Many people can wait for market swings, moving from buyers to seller’s markets in an attempt to maximize the income they receive. However, in probate, an empty house is one that is costing money, and most need to be sold quickly. 

In addition, a lot of time can elapse between the valuation and its actually listing. At this time, you need to be aware of any up or downturns in the market to get the best deal. 

6. Not Managing Insurance

Standard insurance may be enough to cover property in probate, though you should check. Many insurance companies will refuse to insure a property that is vacant for longer than sixty days. This can create even more problems and devalue the house even further. 

If they are not invalid, then policies can usually be restricted. This may mean if something happens in the property while it remains vacant, no insurance is there to cover it. This then raises the question of who is legally liable for repairs, and if you are the executor, it is most probably you.

7. Not Getting a Caretaker 

One way to keep the property well maintained is to appoint a caretaker. This is someone who maintains the property for you, doing everything from repairs to mowing the lawn. 

It could be another family member who has fewer commitments, or a knack for DIY and repairs. You may even be able to get someone to stay there temporarily, though check with your attorney on the legalities of this. 

If this fails, then hire a vacant property management company. It will cost you some money, but much less than if you have to do large repairs and renovations later down the line. 

Selling Probate Property

In summary, make sure you get assistance from an experienced attorney and estate agent when selling probate property. Do not make any moves to sell until you have the legal documents, and keep the property maintained and insured. 

Florida Probate Attorney Fees

In the 2018-2019 fiscal year, there were 59,095 probate filings in the State of Florida. Following a person’s death, Florida Law requires you to file the will within ten (10) days of the person’s death. This puts the original will into the court’s custody but is not the same as probating the estate.

It is surprising to many who find themselves managing an estate that hiring a probate attorney is mandatory. It is also a state law that payment of Florida probate attorney fees is from the estate assets.

The total cost of probate is dependent upon a number of factors. This includes the location of the estate, whether it is simple or complex, and whether there is a need to sell real property.

Read on to learn everything you need to know about Florida probate laws. This includes the steps and cost of administering the estate and the easiest way to sell a home you inherit.

Basic Probate Fees

The administration of an estate takes place in the Florida probate court. There are fees you pay to the court when filing the paperwork necessary to open the estate and complete the probate process. These fees vary depending upon whether anything such as the contesting of a will or any other adversary proceedings or litigation takes place.

In addition to the court filing fees you may encounter the following:

Personal Representative Fees

In the majority of probate cases, the executor receives reasonable payment of fees. In accordance with § 733.617 of Florida law, compensation is payable to the personal representative from the assets of the estate. The determination of reasonable fees for an executor is a percentage of the total value of the estate:

  • 3% commission for the first $1 million
  • 5% for value above $1 million but not exceeding $5 million
  • 2% for value above $5 million but not exceeding $10 million
  • 5% for value in excess of $10 million

In addition to receiving compensation against the value of the estate, the personal representative may also receive additional payment for performing extraordinary services, including the selling of real property, litigation, maintaining the business of the deceased, or any other special services necessary.

Appraisal and Valuation Fees

It may be necessary to obtain appraisals to determine the value on the date-of-death for stocks, business interests, personal property, business holdings, and real estate, including the residence of the deceased. Personal holdings such as collectible figurines, artwork, jewelry, automobiles, collectible coins, and more may be subject to appraisals. The fees associated with this will depend on the individual appraiser and the type of asset.

Miscellaneous Fees

Every estate is different, and there will likely be miscellaneous fees relative to your particular estate. This can include things such as yard maintenance, housekeeping fees, pool and spa maintenance, or care for pets or livestock. There may also be fees for posting a bond, publication fees, or fees for out-of-state assets. Your probate attorney will advise what expenses you may pay from estate assets.

Attorney Fees

With the exception of very small estates, or in a case where the personal representative is the sole beneficiary, Florida law requires a probate and estate attorney to oversee probate administration. This means that probate lawyer fees are a normal expense the estate must incur. The actual amount of probate attorney fees you pay will depend on the size of the estate.

Florida Probate Attorney Fees

Attorney fees for handling probate and trust administration will vary depending on the individual estate, and whether or not there appear to be any disputes with the will or distribution of assets. Probate law is complicated and the process can be lengthy.

When you consult with an estate and probate attorney, they will provide you with the probate estate fee. Depending on the size of the estate, they may offer to perform the estate duties using a flat fee. This means that rather than paying a percentage of the estate, they charge a one-time fee to cover all of their duties.

Flat fee rates may work to the attorney’s advantage if it takes them less time than anticipated to complete the estate. They may also be to your advantage if the probate process takes longer than the attorney’s estimation.

The retainer/fee agreement you sign will specify duties the attorney will perform, what their fee is, and if there are any additional expenses. The attorney fees do not cover incidental expenses such as filing fees, transcription fees, witness fees, and office expenses such as copying and postage.

The Florida Probate Code is complex, including deadlines and rules that you must comply with. Failing to follow these guidelines may result in a delay in administering the estate, increasing costs. For this reason, the probate code includes information on what a reasonable attorney fee is for the handling of probate.

Florida Probate Code

Costs and attorney fees are payable pursuant to Florida Statute § 733.106 which states that any attorney providing services on behalf of an estate may receive reasonable compensation. It is permissible to pay an attorney representing a personal representative from the estate without a court order. The compensation is reasonable if the amount is based on the inventory value of the estate as follows:

  • $1,500 for an estate value of $40,000 or less
  • $2,250 for estates having a value between $40,000 but less than $70,000
  • $3,000 for estates having a value between $70,000 but less than $100,000
  • 3% of the estate’s value for estates between $100,000 up to $900,000
  • 5% of the estate’s value for estates above $1 million but less than $3 million
  • 2% of the estate’s value for estates above $3 million but less than $5 million
  • 5% of the estate’s value for estates above $5 million but less than $10 million
  • 1% of the estate’s value for estates above $10 million

The probate attorney may also collect compensation for any extraordinary services they perform. This includes the contesting of a will, auditing of taxes, postmortem tax planning, and preparation of the estate tax return. It may also include the purchase, leasing, or sale of real property and more.

When paying probate lawyer fees the court may direct which portion of an estate must pay those fees. This direction encompasses several factors.

This includes if a beneficiary created an unjust increase in the attorney fees and costs. Because of factors such as this, the court may determine fees be paid out of that person’s portion of the estate only.

If the attorney is administering a trust, the attorney may request the court issue an order awarding attorney fees pursuant to Florida Statute §736.1005. As with attorney fees on an estate, the court may direct which portion of a trust the attorney fees be paid from pursuant to Florida Statute §736.1006.

Probate Attorney Represents Personal Representative

A personal representative is responsible for the administration of an estate, and by Florida law, they must have a Florida probate attorney to assist and oversee the administration of the estate. The attorney will advise the personal representative of their legal rights and duties. The attorney will also represent the executor of the estate during probate court proceedings.

The estate attorney represents the personal representative, not the beneficiaries.  Duties of a probate attorney include overseeing the following:

Oversee General Duties of a Personal Representative

The purpose of probating an estate is to finalize the affairs of the deceased.  The probate attorney must advise and oversee the handling of the estate by the Personal Representative to ensure procedures are done in accordance with the law. The duties of a personal representative include:

  • Identify and secure all assets of the estate
  • Identify all creditors of the estate
  • Provide notice of the opening of an estate to all creditors
  • Pay all valid claims made by creditors from the estate funds
  • Object to any invalid claims made by creditors
  • File tax returns and pay from the estate any taxes the decedent or estate owes
  • Pay expenses pertaining to the administration of probate from the estate funds
  • Distribution of estate assets to beneficiaries
  • Closing of the probate estate

A personal representative has a fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries of the estate. The probate attorney’s position is to assist in the filing of all necessary paperwork. The attorney will also make sure the personal representative completes all duties within the appropriate time frame and in the correct manner to comply with legal requirements.

The personal representative only distributes assets where the decedent was the sole owner. Those items are subject to probate.

Assets that do not fall under probate include items the decedent held jointly with another person. Other items such as investments or life insurance policies that list beneficiaries are paid directly to those persons and do not go through the probate process.

Time to Administer Probate

It will take approximately six (6) months to complete the probate process. Some matters can take twelve (12) months, depending on the specifics of the case. This time frame includes time for the appointment of the personal representative or executor.

There is a ninety (90) day creditor’s time period, which allows for creditors to respond with claims of debt against the estate. Once claims are made against the estate those debts must be paid from the assets. After the estate debts are paid in full, the personal representative may petition the court to transfer all remaining assets to the beneficiaries.

The executor of the estate must prepare a final accounting of the estate, and then petition the court for final distribution. Notice of a hearing is sent to all interested parties. The hearing confirms that all creditors are paid, and the distribution of assets is complete. The personal representative then files a closing statement confirming the completion of all asset distributions.

Selling Real Property

Selling of the estate assets, including real property, may even be necessary to settle estate debts, pay probate attorney fees, and pay personal representative fees. When selling a home during probate, the court will usually require the following items be provided to the court:

  • Petition the court for an order of authorization to sell real property
  • The petition must have signatures of both the personal representative and attorney and must include a statement that the contract is a fair market price, the sale is an arm’s length transaction, and must include the property’s legal description and street address
  • A copy of the sales contract
  • A copy of the broker’s letter and comparable market analysis or a copy of the appraisal
  • Proof that all beneficiaries have receipt of formal notice, without objection or set a hearing with notice unless all residuary beneficiaries provide their consent to the sale
  • Submission of a proposed order regarding the sale of the real property or bring the order to a hearing

If the court finds all information to be sufficient, an order will issue approving the sale of the property. Once the property is sold the proceeds must first pay estate debts, then distribution made of remaining assets to the beneficiaries.

Summary Administration

Summary Administration is a process in which an estate may qualify for an abbreviated probate process. Qualification may be obtained if the estate has an asset value of less than $75,000, not including a homestead or exempt assets.

The second manner in which an estate may qualify is if the decedent has been dead in excess of two (2) years. In this circumstance, the estate no longer needs to pay unsecured creditors. This qualification may apply to an estate of any size.

To request summary administration it is necessary to file a petition requesting the court enter an order of distribution for the estate assets. The court will issue such an order upon satisfaction that all creditors are in receipt of payment and no debt remains outstanding. This entire probate process normally takes less than a month to complete.

Simplify One Probate Step

Whether you are a personal representative or a probate attorney, it is easy to simplify one step of the probate process by selling the home through RealOfferNow.com. This process allows you to sell the home in “as is” condition, without performing repairs or making upgrades.

RealOfferNow.com buys the home in any condition, and will even assist in moving your contents out of the home. All that is necessary are a few photos and one inspection. No people walking through your home for multiple showings.

The process makes it simple to sell your home now. The simple steps will help keep your Florida probate attorney fees low.

Just fill out an online offer form or call us at 727-330-270. Tell us about the home you want to sell, receive a cash offer, close the sale and get your cash fast. Located in Largo, Florida, we close and remodel every home we list. Don’t hesitate, contact us today!

How Long Does Probate Take in Florida?

In the Fiscal Year 2018-2019, there were more than 133,000 probate filings in the state of Florida.

Some of these cases are fairly straightforward and move through the system rather quickly. Others with disputes or other issues can take significantly longer to complete the necessary judicial processes.

Unfortunately, this is more common than you might think. Among other things, you may have found yourself wondering, how long does probate take in Florida?

The probate process can be difficult to navigate for the layperson. It can take anywhere from months to years to complete, depending on a variety of factors.

After asset distribution is complete, you may find yourself drained. But now, you have property on your hands that you aren’t sure what to do with. Luckily, this problem occurs often—and there are solutions available.

Keep reading to find out—how long does probate take in Florida? Plus, read on for tips on what to do next.

What Is Probate?

Probate is a legal process of distributing the estate of a deceased person. This is typically done in accordance with their Last Will and Testament.

However, some individuals die without a will. These cases still go through the probate procedure. But, their assets get distributed in line with intestacy laws of succession.

Probate can be a costly and time-consuming process for all parties involved. While it may seem like it would be a family matter, this is not always the case.

There are a variety of figures who may find interest in the probate process, beyond the immediate family. This may include:

  • Friends
  • Heirs
  • Creditors
  • Personal representatives
  • Other interested parties

It will all depend on the state of the deceased’s finances prior to their death.

Probate Procedure

The first step is to file the will with the probate court. From there, the court will appoint a trustee, who acts as a point person in asset distribution. This is also known as a “personal representative.” 

This figure must be a resident of Florida. If not, they must be relatives of the deceased by blood, marriage, or adoption.

Furthermore, they must be at least 18 years old and never convicted of a felony. The court must deem this figure mentally and physically capable of serving in this position.

The court will also notify beneficiaries and creditors of the estate at this point. If disputes arise involving either the will or the estate administration, they move to probate court litigation. 

There are three common types of probate dispute. 

The first is a will contest, where one party raises an argument that the will should be declared invalid. This could be due to the deceased’s lack of mental capacity when constructing the will. It could also be from undue influence or lack of formalities.

The second type of probate dispute is for breach of fiduciary duty. This occurs when the administrator of the estate does not act in the best interest of the beneficiaries throughout the process.

The last type is for surviving spouse claims.

Once disputes are sufficiently settled—or if there are no disputes at all—the probate process can move forward. At this stage, the trustee will pay taxes and any other valid claims to settle any money owed by the estate.

From there, estate assets are then distributed to beneficiaries. The trustee then makes a final accounting to the court.

While this process may not seem overly complicated, it can grow extremely complex. The probate timeline will vary from case to case, but typically requires several months.

Laws Pertaining to Probate in Florida, Specifically

Under Florida law, there are three different types of probate proceedings.

The first type is formal administration. This is the most common type of probate, but is also the most involved.

In cases where the deceased’s estate is worth over $75,000, then it must pass through the formal administration probate process. This is true when the individual in question died within two years.

These probate cases take place in the Circuit Court of the county in which the deceased lived at the time of death.

The second type of probate proceeding in Florida is summary administration. This is a less formal probate process.

Summary administration proceedings are beneficial as they are conducted on an expedited basis. But, this option is only available for cases where the deceased passed away more than two years ago. It is also open to estates with a value of less than $75,000.

The third type of probate proceedings is disposition without administration. This option avoids probate altogether. Though, it is only available in specific, limited circumstances.

Most often, this option is used when the deceased did not own real estate, and/or the value of their estate is less than the costs of traditional probate proceedings.

With any probate proceedings, issues and disputes can often arise. Some wills carry “no contest” clauses which are designed to discourage various parties from challenging the content of the will. But, in the state of Florida, these clauses are unenforceable. 

Out-of-State Wills

For wills that were drafted and executed in another state, Florida probate courts will typically recognize it as valid. This is only true if the will is considered valid under the laws of the state in which it was drafted.

If the will is oral or handwritten in its entirety, the court will not accept this. In those cases, the estate would be subject to Florida’s intestate succession laws.

How Long Does Probate Take in Florida?

The answer for how long probate takes in Florida will vary by case. Of course, adjusting to the COVID-19 pandemic has only further added to the timeframe.

Generally speaking, the length of time for a formal administration case will span between one to two years. Summary administration is significantly expedited—often taking less than a month.

These are just general probate timeline spans. But, the probate process easily gets dragged out if disputes or other difficulties arise along the way.

Probate Timeline

There is no blanket timeline that applies to all probate cases. But, to get a good idea of how complex these cases are and why they require such a large time commitment—check out this sample timeline.

  1. Petition for probate prepared and filed — 2-4 months
  2. Hearing on petition for probate — 2 months
  3. Issue letters of administration, orders for probate, duties and liabilities — 2 months
  4. Probate bond issued (if required) — 2 months
  5. Notice to creditors — 2 months
  6. Notice to Department of Health Services — 6 months
  7. Estate inventory and appraisal — 6 months
  8. Pay state and/or federal taxes (if necessary) — 6 months
  9. Creditor claims are paid — 6 months
  10. Notice to Franchise Tax Board — 6 months
  11. Tax clearance letters — 5 months
  12. File Petition for Final Distribution & Accounting — 8 months 
  13. Hearing on Petition for Final Distribution & Accounting — 8 months
  14. Order approving Final Distribution & Accounting — 8 months
  15. Distribution of assets — 9 months
  16. Final discharge order — 9 months
  17. Final distribution of estate funds, probate concluded — 15 months

Some of these processes run concurrently, while others rely on careful successions of events. Together, this case would take 24 months from start to finish. Again, please note these are approximate figures intended to provide a concept of the timeframe for a typical probate case.

It’s also important to note this example does not have any disputes. These situations only further delay the typical probate procedure.

Other Factors Affecting the Length of Time for Probate

In addition to disputes, there are various other factors that can increase the probate timeline.

The size of the estate in question is one of the most important factors in the probate process. As the number of assets—and their relative value—within the estate increases, the length of time required to distribute these assets also increases.

With many assets comes large amounts of paperwork, legal discussions, and decision-making involved. This becomes even more dragged out with more complicated assets, like property within a trust, for example.

Another factor playing a significant role in the probate timeline is the structure of the will. If there is any doubt surrounding the legitimacy of the will, the court has a duty to investigate. They cannot administer any assets until the will is confirmed.

If the deceased left behind particularly messy or unclear will, it often takes a while for the court to sort it out. Plus, if there is no will at all, the probate process can become even more complex and thus more time-consuming to sort out.

Another significant factor is the financial status of the estate. If the deceased left behind existing taxes or debts, they must first be satisfied. This means the trustee or beneficiaries must make these claims for money owed.

Plus, in some states, there is an estate tax that adds a further financial burden to handle. This process can take anywhere from months to years to complete. Unfortunately, the estate cannot be closed until these issues are resolved.

Finally, a last significant factor is the number of heirs in the estate. With more beneficiaries to take into account, the longer the probate process takes. Plus, statistically speaking—the more heirs to the estate, the higher the possibility of disagreements and disputes occurring.

What to Do With Property Awarded in Probate

After going through the probate process, you may find yourself mentally and physically exhausted.

While it is nice to have your role in a loved one’s life recognized with a gift of property, sometimes it may not align with your interests. This is especially true with real estate. For one reason or another, you may just simply be uninterested in maintaining the home.

This can be the case for a variety of reasons. On one hand, it may be in a different location that would make it unrealistic. Or, the money may be better used in other areas. 

In some situations, the property may not be up to your living standards.

For whichever reason you may decide to sell, this can bring about a whole other host of frustrations. If the house is not up to par with similar homes in the area, it can be a nightmare to get it up to snuff for the traditional real estate market.

For family members still grieving a loss—especially those not located particularly close by—this can be taxing. Luckily, there is a simple solution to offload these properties at reasonable offers. The best part? They are sold in their current condition.

Selling With RealOfferNow

For families still grieving after the loss of a loved one, the thought of selling their home may be emotionally pressing enough. The thought of having to go through and clean out, renovate, and prepare the house for sale might just be too much.

Luckily, there is an easy solution. RealOfferNow will buy your house, regardless of its condition. They provide guaranteed cash in a matter of days, plus these benefits:

  • No need to repair the home
  • No showings to multiple strangers
  • No cleaning or staging required

Offers are provided in about an hour, with closing on a timeline that works for you.

In Florida, we pay cash for houses in the following locations:

  • Pinellas County
  • Polk County
  • Hillsborough County
  • Pasco County
  • Manatee County
  • St. Petersburg
  • Tampa
  • Clearwater
  • Sarasota
  • Bradenton
  • Lakeland
  • Bartow
  • New Port Richey

RealOfferNow makes it easy to sell your house safer, faster, and easier. We have purchased many homes across Florida, and look forward to working with you to sell your property.

Post-Probate in Florida

Now you can answer, how long does probate take in Florida?

But going through this process can be draining for loved ones, who are still trying to grieve a recent loss. With all of this on your plate, the last thing you want to worry about is how to offload a newly-passed-down home.

Regardless of the condition, we want to buy your house. If you’re wondering what you could walk away with, contact us today for a real offer in minutes!

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