Navigating Probate: Can You Reside in a Home During the Process?

An image of a family discussing their options in front of a home, symbolizing the decision-making process during probate.

Losing a loved one can be a difficult experience, and dealing with the deceased person's estate can add more challenges. One of the most frequent inquiries about probate assets that people have is, "Can you live in a house during probate?" In this comprehensive blog post, we will address this question and provide an overview of the entire probate process, highlighting the roles of various individuals, such as the probate court, real estate agent, executor, and probate attorney.

Understanding Probate court

Probate is a legal procedure that takes place after a person's death. It entails the transfer of property ownership, settling debts, and distributing assets to heirs as stipulated in a valid will or according to state law if no will exists. The probate procedure varies depending on whether the deceased person left a will, had a living trust, or had no estate plan.

An image of a family discussing their options in front of a home, symbolizing the decision-making process during probate.

The Probate Process Explained

When a property owner passes, their estate usually enters probate. The probate court designates a personal representative (executor) to manage the estate's assets, including real estate property like the family home, and to ensure that the estate and the deceased person's wishes are fulfilled. This individual is typically named in the last will, but if no will exists or no person is named, the court will appoint someone based on state law.

Probate Property and Estate Sales

The deceased person's estate encompasses all assets, such as real estate, personal belongings, financial accounts, debts, and insurance policies. During the probate process, the personal representative might need to sell the house or other other estate assets to pay off debts or distribute the estate assets according to the decedent's wishes. Probate sales are real estate transactions involving the sale of probate property, usually through a real estate agent specializing in these kinds of probate sales.

A photo of a house with a "For Sale" sign, representing the sale of a probate property.

Is It Possible to Live in a House During Probate?

It's not unusual for family members, particularly a surviving spouse or immediate family member, to continue residing in the family home during the probate court process. However, can you live in a house during probate however, this is subject to certain conditions and potential risks. State laws and the probate court's decisions determine whether an individual can live in a house during probate.

Firstly, the person residing on the property must have a legal right to do so. This could be through joint tenancy or as an heir or person named so in the will. If the property was held in a living trust, the person may continue living there if the deed of trust permits it.

Secondly, at a court hearing, the executor or personal representative must provide their consent for the family member to continue living in the house. They may consider factors such as preserving the property's market value and any potential impact on the probate home sale.

Thirdly, the person living in the house must maintain the property and ensure that it remains in good condition. They may also be responsible for property taxes, utilities, and insurance expenses. Remember that living in a house during the probate or estate sale may affect the probate sale process and the ability to sell the property at a higher price.

Selling Probate Property

The personal representative collaborates closely with a real estate agent to sell the house on the open market. This estate sale process can be similar to a traditional sale but with some differences. For example, the probate court must approve the sale, and the transaction is subject to a court hearing, which allows potential buyers to submit additional bids in an overbidding process. The court will typically accept the sell to the highest bid that meets its requirements.

Sometimes, the original buyer sell a house may be outbid, resulting in the property being sold to someone else who offered a higher price. The executor named in the will is the person appointed and responsible for ensuring that the property is sold at the best

possible price to maximize the sale of estate's assets. This process benefits the decedent left both the estate and its beneficiaries. It can help generate more money to pay off debts and distribute funds to heirs according to the decedent's wishes.

The Role of a Probate Attorney

A probate attorney can provide invaluable assistance during the probate process. They can help navigate the complexities of state law, assist the court and the personal representative in fulfilling their duties, and represent the estate in court hearings. The probate attorney can also offer guidance on selling probate assets and property, including advising on the accepted offer and ensuring the overbidding process is handled correctly.