It can seem like a daunting task during a difficult time. Just the paperwork to start the probate process can appear overwhelming. So many questions. What is an Informal Probate? Is the probate process without a will the same as with one? Where do I start?
In Arizona, you start with the Maricopa County Superior Court. There you will find all the documents you need. If you're named the estate's Personal Representative (executor or executrix), you'll be issued Letters of Appointment by the Court. This document must be recorded with the County Recorder's Office, and it will be made public.
That's when the calls start.
And there will be calls—a lot of them. Calls from cash buyers, fix and flip investors, and real estate agents. They check the recorded documents daily, look to see if the decedent owned any property, and call you to ask if you'll be selling it. They'll try to make you on-the-spot, sight unseen, quick-close cash offers. Or they have a cash buyer for your real estate. They'll tell you how long the probate process will take and how hard it will be to sell. They'll probably offer to help you out while "saving you a commission." (See my page on multiple offers)
With all the decisions to be made surrounding the passing of a family member, the last thing you'll want is to be inundated with incoming calls. And it will be pretty appealing to dispose of the property quickly with little to no effort, especially with the marketing tactics that are going around the investor seminars these days.
But here's the truth. The probate process can take months, but selling a home during probate can have the same timeline as any other real estate transaction. And anyone who says their cash offer can close in less than two weeks is being less than transparent. The title company will need to pull a title report (as they do with every transaction) and get a payoff statement from the mortgage company (as they also do with every transaction). It takes about two weeks for this process, even with a cash buyer.
The last probate sale I handled was a home that needed repairs and renovations. A dream come true for fix & flip investors. We received 28 offers. All cash. All from investors. We closed at $96,000 OVER the first investor's cash offer. Even after payoff and commissions, the estate more than TRIPLED the net profit it would have seen with the first offer. I can not overstate the difference that money can make in the lives of the beneficiaries.
If you find yourself the executor or personal representative of an estate, first of all, please accept my condolences. If you would like the assistance of not just a Seller's Agent but a Seller's Advocate, I'd be honored to handle your transaction with professionalism and sensitivity.
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