TIPS OF THE TRADE: REAL PROPERTY, REAL PROBLEMS: A PRACTITIONER’S GUIDE TO DEALING WITH REAL ESTATE IN A PROBATE
By Paul Horn, Esq., CPA*
You are meeting with a potential client regarding a probate administration. When you gather information about the decedent’s assets. you learn that the estate contains real property. Before you accept the engagement, there are critical issues to consider. Is the estate solvent? Is there a risk of foreclosure on estate property? If not, is there another reason to sell property immediately? When petitioning for probate, should you request full authority or will limited authority suffice? How do you ensure the accuracy of an appraisal? Should repairs or renovations be made and, if so, is it likely your client can be reimbursed? Does your client intend to purchase the real property out of probate? These are just some of the issues that arise when dealing with real property in probate, and they should be considered at the outset when determining if you are willing to take on a case.
This article explores these issues and the practical considerations – such as the length of time it will take to close the probate and whether there will be cash available to pay your attorney fees at the end of the administration – that a practitioner should consider when presented with estate matters involving the disposition of real property.