Real property often constitutes the majority of someone’s personal wealth. If you have to manage someone’s estate and distribute their property to their family members, their real property may be the most valuable asset you have to handle.
Sometimes, your main obligation is to arrange for the smooth transfer of ownership to the intended beneficiary. You will need to file paperwork with the courts and remove property that you need to transfer to other beneficiaries.
Other times, the testator may have left instructions for you to sell the house. What steps do you need to take if you intend to sell the property?
You need to secure it immediately
Vacant properties are often the target of local criminals. There are certain people who scan the obituaries so they can find likely houses to burglarize. Family members and neighbors might also let themselves into the property to look around and helped themselves to assets they feel they should own.
It is typically your responsibility to preserve the property’s value, and part of that responsibility means physically protecting the property from damage by vandals or thieves.
Get an appraisal
The fair market value for real estate is in constant flux. The assessed value for the property or the amount someone paid to purchase it will likely not accurately reflect what the property is worth on the current real estate market.
You need a professional to come in and tell you what the property is worth so that you don’t sell it for too little and then face claims that you did not act in the best interests of the estate’s beneficiaries.
Make sure you contact all possible beneficiaries
The probate-related sale of real property is one of the leading causes of later title claims. Ensuring that everyone with a possible interest in the property knows about the probate proceedings and has an opportunity to speak about their wishes or review the estate documents can protect you from claims that you mishandled the estate and protect the new owners from title claims that could affect their financial stability.
Following the right steps when handling real property during Texas probate proceedings will reduce your risk of making an expensive mistake.