Inheritances and the process of distributing the belongings of someone who has passed away can be pretty involved. The specifics will vary from state to state, and will to will. In many cases, the home of the deceased will be one of the most valuable assets that needs to be managed. Sometimes a house will go into probate. Do you know what that means?

What Is Probate?

Probate is the legal process that is used to validate a person’s will. It’s also how property gets distributed in the event that a will hasn’t been left. That is determined by a probate court. The process can be lengthy and complex. It requires the inheritors of the property, the executor, and the lawyers who are involved to complete various legal requirements. The whole thing can easily take months, if not years to complete.

The Probate Process

The probate process starts out with the validity of the will being proven in court. Then the property must be identified and inventoried before it gets appraised. After that, any debts and taxes must be paid. Only then can the property be divided up and distributed according to what has been prescribed by the will. The property of the estate will be used to pay for the lawyers’ and court fees that are incurred by the probate process.

What Happens to the House

If a house goes into probate, what will happen depends on whether the deceased left a will or died intestate, or without having made a will. If a will was left, the executor can sell the property. If not, the probate court will handle the sale of the property. Regardless, the process is regulated by the probate court and will be sold through a probate real estate agent if that is what is to be done with the house. The belongings will be distributed to family and friends or sold off at an estate sale prior to the house going on the market.

Navigating the execution of a will and the distribution of an inheritance can be quite the process. In some cases it may be simpler to sell a house and divide up the money from the sale among the recipients of the will. Of course, all of that will be determined by a will, assuming that one is left. Encourage your loved ones to have a will made if they haven’t already so that their belongings and assets will be divided up the way they want them to be.

Selling your home can be an emotional experience. Read this next: How to Emotionally Prepare to Sell Your Home in Nevada