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I wanted to avail this post to provide an overview of the often overlooked but lucrative niche of probate investing. Literally TRILLIONS of dollars will be transferred from one generation to the next. Enter an aging baby boomer population and this fact of life will only balloon in the coming years.
Probate is the legal process to obtain the legal authority to act on behalf of the estate of a person who has passed (Decendent). The estate is distributed in accordance with:
1) The will of the deceased.
2) When a will is not present, the laws of intestate succession are applied. These laws parcel out property to the deceased person’s closest relatives.
The decendent usually spells out who they wish to be in charge of their estate. Yet absent a will, the court will assign a Personal Representative (PR), more commonly known as the executor, who is tasked with the fiduciary duty of divvying up the estate to pay creditors and distribute the remaining proceeds to the heirs. While anyone can petition the court to fill the role of a Personal Representative, most states prefer the surviving spouse or registered domestic partner as the first choice, followed by adult children or other blood relatives. > Read more on the role of the Personal Representative and to familiarize yourself with other vernacular, view a glossary of probate terms here.
As a real estate investor, the main point to grasp from 40,000 feet is that the PR has been awarded the authority to sell the house. Your job is to contract it and buy it, or assign to another cash buyer. This is the crux of investing in probates.
Probates are the low-hanging fruit because the PR often has a heightened sense of urgency to sell the real property in the estate, for a host of reasons:
Investors that are able to make an early connection to build empathy and rapport with the PR and explain the benefits of working together will undoubtedly be successful. > See some letters that other investors have used to make an introduc....
The length of the probate process varies on myriad factors such as the complexity of the estate and intent of the parties – every case is different. Sometimes these deals seem to fall in your lap, as if the PR was waiting for your call. If only it was that easy in every case. One phenomena we see not uncommonly is that a living spouse remains in the house and may not be motivated to sell RIGHT NOW. A few months later, when bills are accumulating and they want to build a new life, maybe get closer to the kids, the timing is better to sell the house and move on. Since everyone’s timing is different in terms of when they want to sell the real property attached to the estate, we highly recommend a concerted, sustained “drip” campaign over time to keep your willingness to help settle the estate top of mind.
Generally, while the PR has been awarded the authority to sell the house to investors like you, some states may require the PR to seek the Court’s permission to sell the real property in what’s called a supervised probate process. It is prudent to check the laws and procedures unique to your county and state.
In future posts, I will delve more into the nuts and bolts of probate investing and bounce some other ideas around as to how you can capture your share of this niche market. Till next time, A-B-C… Always Be Closing!
At probateleads.net, our goal is pair REALTORS and investors with executors of probate estates that are motivated to sell by compiling a targeted list of probate filings in nearly every US county. If you found this article to be informative, let's continue the conversation.