What Is Probate Real Estate?

When someone passes away, their property is left to be distributed to their family members. This process is known as probate. Probate is the court process that ensures the wishes of the deceased are followed, and their property is distributed according to the terms of their Will.

If they did not have a Will, their property would be distributed according to Michigan intestate succession laws. Understanding how probate works may make the process easier for you and your family. In most cases, any real estate owned by the decedent becomes part of the probate and is known as probate real estate, but it can become complicated.

What Is Probate Real Estate

What To Know If You Are Involved With Probate Real Estate?

If you’re currently involved in a probate real estate transaction, you should know how the process works as well as how long it will take to complete. Depending on how you are involved in the probate sale, you may want to know how to locate probate property, how to sell or buy it, how much probate costs, and the different steps involved in probate.

What Is Probate For Real Estate Property?

Probate real estate might be handled differently depending on what was listed in the Will, if there was one. If the decedent specified in their Will that their real estate should go to someone specific, it may make the process simpler. On the other hand, if the decedent didn’t leave any instructions, there are a few options for how the property may be handled. In some instances, the property may be sold to pay debts and distributed to heirs.

In some states, if a property was jointly owned with rights of survivorship, it likely won’t need to go to probate court. Some states allow a Ladybird Deed to be filed, which allows for a property to be automatically passed down to a beneficiary without the need for probate. It’s important to know that not all states allow this type of Deed.

How Does the Probate Real Estate Process Work?

Each state has its own laws about how real property is handled during the probate process, but for the most part, the process is overseen by the probate court. In most cases, the court must approve the sale of the home before any type of transaction can be completed. The executor of the estate is responsible for following any provisions made by the probate court.

If there are disagreements about what should happen with the property, then it is up to the court to decide what happens. Typically, the court will decide to sell the property and distribute the proceeds from the sale between the heirs.

Steps For Probate Real Estate

The probate process for real estate typically varies from situation to situation. However, below are a few steps that are usually followed in most cases:

  • The executor of the estate must be appointed by the probate court
  • In most cases, the real property will need an appraisal to find out how much to list it for
  • The property will need to be listed, typically through a real estate agent, and advertised
  • Once the property receives an offer, you can accept an offer, or you may negotiate a price that works for each party
  • Once the probate real estate sale is complete, the proceeds from the sale are added to the estate to pay off any debts and then are distributed to heirs.

How To Find Probate Real Estate?

If you’re looking for probate real estate, there are a few companies that sell listings. The county records, which are available to the public, are also another place to look. These records will give you the property address, name of the deceased owner, the heirs, and who the executor is.

Buying Probate Real Estate

If you’d like to buy a property in probate, you should understand the process. The first step is to find a property you would like to purchase. You can do so by checking public records.

Next, you should make an offer on the property you would like to purchase. Like any property for sale, you can offer less than the listing price. From there, the real estate agent and executor can accept the offer, reject it, or even make a counter offer. Once your offer is approved, the executor must file a petition with the probate court to approve the sale of the real estate. This step can take the longest due to the need for court approval. In some cases, it may take anywhere from a month to a month and a half.

Should You Buy Property Through A Probate Sale?

Probate home sales aren’t right for everyone. If you’re considering this option, you need to decide what factors are most important to you, getting a great deal on a probate real estate property or getting a house quickly. Most probate homes sell below their market value, but you must keep in mind that these types of sales take much longer than regular sales.

Another important problem to consider is the cost of any renovations or repairs. If you have the time and money to complete the renovations, then a probate home may be a good option for you. Those who buy and flip homes typically go this route because the homes are cheaper.

If you don’t have a lot of time or money, then probate real estate may not be your best option. There may be some unknown issues with these homes, which may be a concern for some. Typically buyers know very little information about these homes when they purchase them. Even if you have an inspection done, there may be some unforeseen issues down the road that could be very costly. Overall, you should consider if the benefits of probate real estate outweigh the cons.

Potential Risks Of A Probate Sale

Probate sales can be risky, especially if you’re new to buying real estate. It’s important to know that each state has its own specific requirements regarding probate sales, which can be overwhelming. Because of this, it’s best to work with an experienced probate attorney and real estate agent. If you don’t hire an attorney and don’t know the court rules, it could mean that the sale doesn’t happen, and the buyer could potentially forfeit their down payment.

You should also note that there will likely be delays anytime there is a court or grieving family involved.

Remember that the previous homeowner, who is now deceased, can’t disclose any issues with the home as part of the sale. Because of this, it’s recommended that you get a complete home inspection for the property.

Cons Of A Probate Sale

  • The process of purchasing a probate home takes much longer than a traditional sale
  • Probate real estate is typically in poor condition and needs repairs more often than not
  • Transactions can be more complicated depending on any additional regulations and requirements
Pros Of Buying Through A Probate Sale

Many experienced real estate buyers and investors lean towards purchasing probate real estate. A large reason why is because of the price. Probate homes are typically less expensive because they are more complicated than regular real estate sales. Also, in some real estate markets, probate sales are a good opportunity for investment that may not be available in traditional real estate sales. This is a large benefit that helps investors and other home buyers.

Benefits Of This Type Of Transaction
  • Probate real estate is less expensive than other traditional home sales
  • Few people are usually interested in probate homes, so there is typically less competition when purchasing a property.
Selling Probate Real Estate

Regardless of what end of the probate real estate sale you’re on, you should know how the process works. An attorney isn’t required in all states, but it’s recommended that you hire one for the probate sale to ensure that everything goes smoothly.

The first step you should take is filing a petition with the probate court to open the estate. Once the probate has been opened, you will also need to file a petition for the sale of real estate before any transaction can take place. You will also need an inspection/appraisal of the home to determine its value.

Next, you will need to hire a real estate agent to list and show off the property. It would be in your best interest to hire a real estate agent who has experience with probate home sales because they will know the specifics of selling a probate property.

Once the property is listed and an offer is submitted, you will need to either accept, decline or counter the offer. After an offer is agreed upon, the attorney will need to file the real estate petition with the court and receive a court date. This process may take a month or two to complete.

Some states require probate homes to be bid upon, and the highest bidder receives the property. Though this varies from state to state, and each state’s laws are unique.

In some cases, you may be able to use the informal probate process, which allows the executor to sell the real estate without any court involvement. The home is sold as normal without the need for any restrictions or a long period of time.

How Long Does It Take To Complete A Probate Sale?

The process of a probate sale may take a long time to complete. Some sales may take up to a year or longer to complete. The timeline may be longer due to the need for court supervision and approval. This task can be a handful, so many executors hire an experienced probate attorney to handle the process for them.


Selling or buying probate real estate can be complex and long. Each state has its own set of laws on how the process works, which can become complicated. The best thing you can do for the estate is hire an attorney to help you through the entire process.

The probate process in Michigan can be complicated, long, and confusing.

Our probate attorneys can help you quickly and easily navigate the process so that your loved one’s money and property can be distributed to their heirs in the manner in which they intended.

At Rochester Law Center, our compassionate and dedicated Michigan Probate Lawyers are experienced in all matters of probate administration and serve every county in the state of Michigan.

We make probate fast, easy, and stress free by acting as your guide through the complicated paperwork and legal proceedings you’ll undoubtedly be facing throughout the Michigan probate process.

We understand the intricacies and nuances involved with probating an estate and can help you navigate every step of the way while keeping costs as low as possible.

Call us today at (248) 613-0007 for a free case evaluation.

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