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A Simple Guide How To Sell a Probate House
Selling a probate property can be complex. To navigate the inheritance process smoothly, it’s important to understand the ins and outs.
In this blog, we’ll address common questions and key concerns related to selling an inherited house in Florida. We’ll cover topics such as filing procedures, associated costs and fees, the role of attorneys, stages of litigation, tax implications, county records, and available court resources. Gain valuable insights to make the process more manageable and informed.
Read on if you want to sell a house in probate fast, easy, and profitably!
- What Is Probate?
- Do You Need To File Probate Litigation?
- Can I Sell A House During Probate?
- Stages of Probate Litigation
- Probate Court: Contact Info and Resources
- Probate Costs and How To Pay Them
- Finding Property Info in County Records
- Tax Implications of Selling Probate House
- Sell Direct or Pay A Realtor?
- Alternatives to Selling a Probate House
What Is Probate?
After someone passes away, the legal process known as probate takes place. This involves administering the estate, which refers to the total assets owned by the deceased individual.
The primary goals of probate are twofold: first, to settle the debts of the estate, and second, to transfer ownership of property to the rightful heirs and beneficiaries. The process entails validating the existence of a will (if there is one), evaluating and assessing the deceased’s property, and addressing any outstanding debts and taxes.
If there are assets remaining after all valid creditor claims are resolved, they are distributed according to the laws of the state. Probate property includes real estate, personal belongings, and various financial assets such as stocks, bonds, and business ownership interests.
Probate litigation is necessary to inherit property in Florida.
This is true whether the decedent left a will (“testate”) or did not leave a will (“intestate”).
Testate Probate (With A Will).
When a person passes away, if they have a valid will, it needs to be presented to the probate court for it to take effect.
According to Florida law, the individual responsible for holding the will must submit it to the court clerk within 10 days of being informed about the testator’s death (F.S. 732.901).
Furthermore, Rule 5.210 of the Florida Probate Rules specifies that heirs must file a petition to admit the deceased person’s will. This petition should include the following information:
- The petitioner’s statement of interest and contact details.
- The decedent’s name, last known address, and personal information.
- Details about surviving spouses and beneficiaries.
- Confirmation of the existence of any unrevoked wills.
- A statement indicating that the will has been submitted to the county court.
Intestate Probate (Without A Will).
If the deceased person didn’t leave a will, it is necessary to go through the probate process in order to inherit a house in Florida.
When there is no will, the property that wasn’t distributed through a will is passed on to heirs according to the guidelines outlined in F.S. 732.101-111. In accordance with Rule 5.200, heirs are required to file a petition for administration.
Regarding the presence of a will, the petitioner must state either that they are unaware of any unrevoked wills or codicils after conducting a reasonable search, or if they are aware of any unrevoked wills or codicils, they must provide a statement explaining why those wills or codicils are not being probated.
You can absolutely sell a house in Florida during probate.
Selling an inherited house can sometimes become necessary to settle estate debts, cover legal fees, or resolve disagreements among heirs.
When you’re selling a house that’s involved in probate litigation in Florida, the courts typically require you to provide the following:
- Petition for Order Authorizing the Sale of Real Property: This document should be signed by the Personal Representative and Attorney, and it should include details such as the statement confirming the contract’s fair market price, the sale being an arm’s length transaction, as well as the property’s legal description and street address.
- Copy of Sales Contract: Include a copy of the sales contract for the property.
- Copy of Appraisal or Broker’s Letter: Provide an appraisal or a broker’s letter containing a comparable market analysis.
- Consents of ALL residuary beneficiaries or Formal Notice: You need to obtain the consents of all residuary beneficiaries in the estate or provide proof of formal notice without any objections. If there are objections, a hearing will be scheduled with notice.
- Submit Proposed Order on Sale of Real Property: Prepare a proposed order related to the sale of the real property, or bring the order to an ex-parte or scheduled court hearing.
If the court determines that the provided materials are sufficient, they will issue an order approving the sale. The proceeds from the sale will first be used to pay off estate debts, and any remaining amount will be distributed among the heirs.
Probate litigation in Florida involves five stages that you should know:
- Stage #1: Filing The Petition: The process begins when the executor (named in the will) or a petitioner (when there is no will) applies to the court. They seek validation of the will or request to be named executor.
- Stage #2: Notice To Creditors and Beneficiaries: The personal representative, usually through an attorney, notifies creditors and beneficiaries with a stake in the estate.
- Stage #3: Payment of The Estate’s Debts, Taxes, and Expenses: Prior to inheriting any property, the decedent’s debts must be settled. This includes credit cards, mortgages, back taxes, bills, and attorney fees.
- Stage #4: Legal Title in Property Transfers In Accordance With Will And/Or Local Law: After the estate resolves its debts, the personal representative petitions the court to transfer the remaining assets to the beneficiaries as specified in the will or according to local laws.
- Stage #5: Closing the Probate Estate: The executor prepares a final account and a petition for final distribution. A hearing is scheduled, with notice given to interested parties. Creditors are paid, and assets are formally distributed. A “closing statement” or “closing affidavit” is prepared to establish that all assets were properly distributed.
Would you like to learn more about the different phases of probate?
Probate litigation occurs at the county level in Florida. For example, probate litigation is filed with the Clerk of the Courts in Miami-Dade County.
Miami-Dade’s probate court office is located at 73 W Flagler Street, Suite 234, Miami, FL 33130. Contact the probate court office by calling (305) 275-1155 or filling in the online form here.
Probate resources, rules, and info are available online:
- Florida Statutes (Chapter 732, Intestate Success & Wills)
- Probate Court Rules (Court Rules 5.010 – 5.900)
- Probate Check Lists (Eleventh Circuit, Miami-Dade County)
- Family, Probate, and Wills (Clerk of Courts)
Engaging in probate litigation can be financially burdensome.
Many individuals who inherit a probate house in Florida face difficulties affording the associated expenses.
Here are the costs you can anticipate:
- Attorney’s Fees: Legal fees constitute the most significant expense. Probate attorneys handle various tasks, including filing the petition, notifying heirs and creditors, conducting asset and liability inventories, and managing the litigation. Compensation typically ranges from $150 to $300 per hour, depending on the complexity of the case and the lawyer’s experience. Hourly rates may also vary based on the location.
- Court Filing Fees: Florida imposes fees for opening a probate estate, amounting to $232.00. Estates valued under $1,000 require a fee of $236.00, while estates exceeding $1,000 incur a fee of $346.00. You can find the complete Civil Probate fee schedule by clicking here.
- Personal Representative Fee: In Florida, personal representatives are entitled to charge a fee for their services. According to S. 733.617, this commission is based on the estate’s value, determined by the inventory value of assets and the income generated during the administration. A 3% fee on the first $1 million in assets is generally considered reasonable.
Don’t have cash readily available to start probate?
Here are some different ways you can pay for probate:
- Distribution of Estate Proceeds: Attorneys cover all the costs of probate and get paid directly from the estate.
- Professional Cash Home Buyer: If you’re involved in a legal dispute and want to sell a house after the case is settled, professional real estate investors may pay for probate. They’ll agree on a price with the heir, and if you’re interested in this service, you can call us at (786) 904-1444 or click here for an offer.
- Percentage of An Estate: Instead of paying an attorney using estate proceeds, some attorneys may accept a percentage of the estate as their payment.
- Pro Bono & Legal Aid: If your income falls below certain thresholds in Florida, you can waive filing fees by submitting an Application for Determination of Civil Indigent Status. For attorney fees, you can reach out to pro bono organizations to see if you qualify for free representation.
You can find all the necessary information about any probate house in Florida online.
When selling an inherited house, it’s crucial to gather accurate information, especially since heirs are often unfamiliar with the details.
The most reliable and up-to-date information can be obtained from direct county records.
County-wide data can be divided into three main categories: property details, tax information, and sales comps.
Here are some of the specifications you can find:
- The house’s specific details, such as living area, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, floors, lot size, year built, zoning, market values, assessed values, sales history, and features, are available on local property appraiser websites. For instance, you can search using the address, owner name, or folio number on the Miami-Dade County property appraiser website.
Understanding the neighborhood fit and comparing the probate house with nearby properties and recent sales and listings (also known as comps) is important information.
If you’re unsure whether the taxes for the property are up-to-date, most counties in Florida have a tax assessor website. You can visit the Miami-Dade’s tax assessor site, for example, to find information about the property’s tax payments, liens, and certificates.
It’s common for decedents to fall behind on taxes due to age or income issues, and their heirs may not be aware of it. If the tax assessor indicates delinquent taxes, you should check for any scheduled tax auction by clicking here.
Comparing Sales Comps and Active Listings:
To ensure accuracy, it’s recommended to rely on first-hand property records directly.
The most reliable systems for accessing county sales data are IMAPP and the MLS. However, please note that both IMAPP and the MLS require a subscription and are not publicly accessible.
If you’re interested in obtaining a free customized report for any property in Florida, feel free to give us a call at (786) 904-1444 or simply fill out the form on our free home report page.
When selling a Florida probate house, it’s important to understand the tax consequences involved.
There are three main tax categories to consider: local estate tax, inheritance tax, and federal estate tax.
Local Estate Tax:
An estate tax, also known as a death tax, is imposed on the portion of the estate inherited by the heir if the total value of the estate exceeds a certain limit.
The good news is that you don’t need to be concerned about local estate taxes when selling a house in Florida.
Florida does not impose an estate tax.
State Inheritance Tax.
An “inheritance tax” is a tax that applies to a specific property you inherit.
It’s important to remember that the “inheritance tax” is distinct from the “estate tax.” The estate tax is calculated based on the total value of the entire estate, while the inheritance tax is based on the specific bequest received by an individual.
Here’s what Julie Garber at The Balance explained:
Initially, the distinction between an estate tax and an inheritance tax might seem like a matter of words. Both taxes are associated with someone’s passing, but an inheritance tax is specifically based on the property given to each individual beneficiary.
On the other hand, an estate tax is calculated based on the total value of the deceased person’s estate, including all gifts intended for beneficiaries. The estate tax is paid by the decedent’s estate, while the inheritance tax is the responsibility of the beneficiary.
You are again in luck when selling a Florida probate property.
Florida doesn’t charge an inheritance tax.
Federal Estate Tax.
The Internal Revenue Service charges an estate tax under certain conditions (although there is no federal inheritance tax).
If the person who passed away is a U.S. citizen or resident and their death occurred in 2016, an estate tax return (Form 706) must be filed if the total value of their estate, combined with their taxable gifts and gift tax exemption, exceeds the filing threshold for that year. The filing thresholds for different years are as follows: $11,180,000 for 2018, $5,490,000 for 2017, $5,450,000 for 2016, $5,430,000 for 2015, $5,340,000 for 2014, $5,250,000 for 2013, $5,120,000 for 2012, and $5,000,000 for 2011.
Tax law is incredibly complex.
Consult a qualified accountant and/or attorney.
Those selling probate or inherited property face the following question.
When deciding whether to sell your house by yourself or hire a real estate agent, there are pros and cons to consider. Let’s go through them:
Reasons to sell on your own:
- Save up to 6% in realtor commission.
- Avoid the hassle of “open houses” and multiple showings.
- No need for online listings or “for sale” signs on your lawn.
- Close the sale at your preferred timeline.
- Avoid exclusive listing agreements that require you to pay commissions even if you find the buyer yourself or if the agent doesn’t achieve the agreed-upon price.
Benefits of hiring an agent:
- If you have limited time to oversee the sale.
- Agents act as neutral negotiators.
- Your house will be publicly listed for sale.
- If you don’t mind waiting for the right offer to sell at a higher price.
- When you have little knowledge about real estate sales.
Exploring Alternatives to Selling a Probate House
Not sure if you want to sell your Florida probate house? Here are a few other options available to you if you inherit a house:
- Move In: If you’re currently renting or unhappy with your current living situation, consider moving into the probate house. These houses are often fully owned (with no mortgage payments), so you can live there without the burden of monthly rent or mortgage. Keep in mind, though, that by choosing this option, you won’t receive a lump sum cash payment.
- Rent It Out: Looking for a steady monthly income? You can rent out the house and receive regular rental payments. Study the rental rates in the local neighborhood to determine a suitable rent. Houses with three or more bedrooms in good neighborhoods often make solid investments. Additionally, over time, you can benefit from potential appreciation in the property’s value. However, if you live far away, managing a rental property as a long-distance landlord can be challenging.
- Become the Tenant: Here’s an interesting option that many heirs are unaware of. You can receive a lump sum payment and still continue living in the property or move in if you aren’t already residing there. Real estate investors are often willing to purchase the property for cash and allow you to remain under a lease agreement.
Considering selling a probate or inherited house in Florida?
Give us a call (786) 904-1444, click here, for a no-obligation, totally free, as-is all-cash offer without paying any fees or commission.
This guide applies to the following cities: Jacksonville, Miami, Largo, Orlando, Bradenton, Hialeah, Port St. Lucie, Greensboro, Cape Coral, Fort Lauderdale, Pembroke Pines, Hollywood, Miramar, Bonita Springs, Lauderhill, Coral Springs, Fort Myers, Clearwater, Palm Bay, Daytona Beach, Miami Gardens, Pompano Beach, Palm Beach, Lakeland, Davie, Boca Raton, Sunrise, and Plantation.
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Not only WILL we buy your property in cash, but we will also make you a really fair offer based on market value and condition of your house. Call us at (786) 904-1444 or fill out any of our forms and see for yourself how easy it is to sell your house in Florida for cash.
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