When a person passes away, the assets they leave behind are generally subject to probate, the judicial process for determining how and to whom these assets will be distributed. Given the Sunshine State’s popular real estate market, many Florida probate cases involve at least one real property, which the heirs and beneficiaries of the estate may decide to sell.
While a Probate Sale has many of the same elements of a regular real estate transaction, the probate process entails many legal nuances and complexities that will challenge even the most experienced Realtor. Fortunately, Jurado & Associates, P.A. can provide a Florida Probate Lawyer with combined expertise in both probate proceedings and real estate law.
How a Probate Sale Works
At the most basic level, the probate process is designed to provide an accounting of the deceased person’s assets so they can be used to satisfy outstanding debts and transferred to the rightful heirs and beneficiaries under the decedent’s Will (or, in the absence of a Will, under Florida intestacy rules). The proceedings are supervised by a probate court to ensure compliance with the Florida Probate Code, including with respect to selling real property that is part of the probated estate.
A Probate Sale may take place in order to settle creditor claims, pay legal fees, or settle disputes among the heirs. Regardless of the reason, the sale must be approved by the probate court, which will usually require the following:
- A petition seeking the court’s approval of the sale, signed by both the personal representative and the probate attorney. The petition must include a legal description and address of the property, affirm that it is being sold at a fair market price, and state the sale is an “arm’s length transaction” (meaning it is between unrelated parties pursuing their own self-interest).
- An appraisal or signed letter by a real estate broker showing a comparable market analysis (CMA), i.e., an estimate of a home’s value used to help sellers set listing prices and buyers make competitive offers. If the property is valued at over $600,000, an appraisal must be provided.
- A copy of the sales contract.
- Proof of consent to the sale by all beneficiaries in the estate, including residual beneficiaries (those who will receive whatever is left of the estate after debts are paid and named heirs and beneficiaries receive their portion). If an affirmative consent is unavailable, you must provide proof of formal notice to the beneficiaries without any objection or set a hearing with notice.
If the probate court is satisfied that the Probate Sale satisfies all legal and statutory requirements, it will issue an order authoring the sale to proceed.
Note that the court’s decision is discretionary, and it may require other documents or further evidence before it approves the sale. At the very least, the probate proceedings must be “current” at the time the sale is being sought, meaning the order appointing the personal representative has already been issued, an inventory of the estate has already been filed, and so on.
Hire a Florida Probate Lawyer to Help Facilitate the Probate Sale
All real estate transactions have legal implications and requirements, but a Probate Sale adds a whole other lawyer of legal complexity. Regardless of which side of the transaction you represent, you will need a Florida Probate Lawyer to help navigate these nuances and safeguard the interests of your client.
Jurado & Associates has ample experience in both probate and real estate law, including when they intersect during a Probate Sale. Our Florida Probate Lawyer will work with you to help the Probate Sale move as quickly and efficiently as possible while still complying with legal requirements. We can handle the complexities of probate law so you can focus on getting the deal closed. If you are a Realtor currently dealing with a Probate Sale, or want to learn more about how we can help in future sales, call (305) 921-0976 or email [email protected] to learn more.