Disclosure: This content is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you are seeking legal advice please consult with an attorney.
Selling a house in probate in Wisconsin can be a hassle, not to mention a bit intimidating. Personal representatives who already are facing a difficult situation are now tasked with figuring out how to navigate through the system. Personal representatives and the estate’s heirs can find themselves strained and stretched thin, trying to agree on a solution that works best for their situation.
Traditional home sales have their own challenges. Selling a house in probate takes some of those common stressors and amplifies them tenfold. When you are already grieving the loss of a loved one, wading through this often complicated legal and financial process may be the last thing you need. There are detailed rules for every step of the probate process, from paperwork and strict deadlines to a detailed order of operations.
What is probate?
Probate is the legal process of administering someone’s estate after their death. When the deceased has a clearly written last will and testament, it makes the probate process much easier. Essentially, the will is examined for legality and legitimacy before your final instructions are carried out. This can include designating property and other belongings to loved ones.
When there is no will, the courts rely on Wisconsin’s intestate law to determine how to distribute the deceased’s belongings.
Tips for the personal representative of a house in probate
Seeking out an experience probate attorney is a must if you are named as the personal representative, also known as the executor, of an estate. A probate attorney can assist the personal representative in determining the best course of action given all the information at hand, such as the last will and testament, amount of assets versus debts of the estate, and preferences of the heirs. The decedent’s house may be able to pass to the heirs, but many times the house is the most valuable asset and must be sold to settle outstanding debts or to be split fairly amongst the heirs.
Being in charge of a property that requires extensive maintenance or mortgage payments while the probate process drags on is an unpleasant experience. Here are some helpful tips for taking control of the situation, and to help the process move along as quickly as possible.
If there is a will, file it with the probate court
Most states, including Wisconsin, require the last will and testament to be filed with the probate court within 30 days of the decedent’s death. Failing to meet the timeline can put you in violation of the law and put your status as personal representative in jeopardy. An attorney skilled in probate law may be helpful in getting the process started.
Determine if the estate qualifies for the informal probate process
A traditional, formal probate process normally takes an average of six months. Wisconsin has an informal probate process for small estates that can significantly speed up the timeline. There are specific guidelines that must be met for this statute to apply.
Determine the condition of the house
Hopefully, the house in the estate is in phenomenal shape. However, it is not uncommon for these homes to have been neglected by the decedent in the years leading up to their passing. Personal representatives are often caught in a conundrum when the house needs extensive cleanout and significant repairs.
Cleaning out a property often takes more time than expected. There may be many items in the house for the family and personal representative to go through and take inventory of what is valuable and what is not. Cleaning out a house of a decedent also brings up a lot of emotions further complicating the situation. This overwhelming task can delay the progress in selling the home.
Knowing the age of the homes major components and needed repairs may not be obvious. Personal representatives could hire a home inspector to gain a better understanding of the home condition. However, it may be challenging for the personal representative to foot the bill for repairs and improvements if there are limited resources available in the estate to pay for them.
Sell the house as soon as permissible
Selling a house that is costing the estate money is an important step in the probate process. The house in the estate may still have an outstanding mortgage with payments. Other expenses such as utilities, insurance, property taxes are still accumulating while the house is in probate. Don’t forget about the expenses and time required for regular maintenance such as yard care and mechanical tune-ups. Therefore, the sooner the executor can sell a house in probate the better.
Consider your options
Properties in subpar condition being sold “as-is” are more difficult to sell with on the market with an agent as the buyer pool is limited. Many home buyers are unwilling to buy a “fixer-upper” and mortgage lenders may be unwilling to fund a loan on a house that needs TLC.
Traditional home buyers looking for their “forever home” are not the only option when unloading a house in probate. When probate properties need extensive repairs or must be sold fast a house buying company may be a good option. House buying companies typically buy houses in their current condition which can ease the burden of the personal representative.
Mistakes to avoid when selling a house in probate
Selling a property in probate differs from a regular real estate transaction. While it may be doable to sell your personal property on your own, it can create a huge headache if you insist on a “do-it-yourself” attitude with probate sales. There are a lot of nuances that can quickly complicate the process. Avoiding some of these common pitfalls will help prevent delays.
Relying on inexperienced professionals
Perhaps the only thing worse than trying to sell probate property yourself is hiring professionals who are not qualified to guide you through the process. As we previously mentioned, find experienced professionals who can guide you through the probate process. It is advisable to consider hiring a probate attorney. Probate attorneys focus on the documents and other filings required for the probate court. They know all the nuances necessary for quickly and effectively moving the probate process through the courts so the personal representative can sell the house and settle the estate in a timely manner.
Selling the property without authority
This is a common mistake. Even if you are listed as a personal representative in a will, you still must go through the probate process to be given proper authority before selling the property. A probate attorney can help file a petition with the courts and request a hearing as quickly as possible. Keep in mind that it can take weeks or months to get a court date. It depends on how many cases are ahead of yours.
Mismanaging real estate disclosures and timelines
Remember when we said there are a lot of forms and deadlines for filing with probate sales? Failing to manage them appropriately can land you in hot water and delay selling a house in probate. Get your attorney and real estate professional involved in the process early to help sort the paperwork.
What are the options for selling a house in probate?
Personal representatives who are disinterested in going through all the headaches of a probate home selling process have options. Reaching out to a house buying company, such as Sell My House In Wisconsin, is one of them. We can tour the property, make a cash offer, and close quickly or on your timeline. While the offer still may need to be approved by the probate court, it eliminates the hassles of completely cleaning out the house, making needed repairs, and placing the property on the marketplace, where it may take months to sell.
Bridging the gap
There is no need to wade through the stress associated with selling a house in probate alone. Working with our team at Sell My House In Wisconsin can help bridge the gap from your current state to your desired state. Our problem-solving abilities and experience eliminate the aggravation, creating a seamless experience from start to finish. We also have experienced and reputable probate attorneys we can put you in touch with. Give us a call today at 920-247-2668 or reach out online to schedule your no-obligation consultation today.
1. Wisconsin State Legislature Intestate Succession Law, Chapter 852, https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/statutes/852
2. State Bar of Wisconsin, “Probate: Answering Your Legal Questions,” https://www.wisbar.org/forpublic/ineedinformation/pages/probate.aspx
3. US Legal Forms, Probate Forms, Wisconsin, https://www.uslegalforms.com/probate/wisconsin/