If you own or are the potential heir or recipient of a vacant home, no doubt, you have been approached by people who would like to buy the home from you. The obvious reason for the interest is that vacant homes appear to be of little interest to the present owner and may represent a decent purchase opportunity. When you add the facts that these homes are often suffering from neglect, vandalism and almost always do not have proper insurance, as they are vacant, potential buyers often seek these homes as buying opportunities to relieve the owners of a burden. The reality is, In most cases, vacant homes are sold quickly due to aggressive buyers making the selling of these homes easy and quick. If you need to sell inherited property in Austin, the 5 steps outlined below will benefit you in being successful.
Sometimes, however, homes sit vacant for long periods of time and are not sold. In these cases, we almost always find that the property is in one of two situations: The property owner has deceased or the property appears, to the heir or owner, to have little to no value. If you think about it most owners or heirs, possibly like yourself, don’t just let a large asset sit vacant for no reason. What I have found is these owners would like to sell if they thought they could but are experiencing one of the two situations and the home sits while the heir or owner takes care of other pressing matters of the moment.
In my most recent experience, these vacant homes, in this current Austin Texas market (2018), have not gone through the legal proving of a will (probate) or the decedent has left no will and the heirs do not know how to sell. Let’s look at some simple steps to take so you can sidestep probate and sell inherited property that is encumbered by the lack of legal process, probate.
5 Steps To Sell Inherited Property in Austin
First Step – Contact a Title Company
The easiest way to approach this is to contact a title company, not a real estate agent, and ask them for the needed paperwork to sell a home that has not gone through probate. Caution: If the title company does not know what you are talking about you should call another title company quickly. Caution: Do not make the mistake of calling a real estate agent. The classes real estate agents go to become licensed do not cover this and the market is so good, currently, that the work involved in bypassing probate will slow down their momentum and there are just much easier ways for them to list and sell a home than to get tangled up in bypassing probate. So, as mentioned, First Step – Contact a title company and ask for the needed forms.
Each title company will have a variety of needed information in order for their title plant to clear the title for sale. The important thing to know is that once you obtain the forms and a list of items needed you should stick with this title company through the sale. Caution: You will find that real estate agents will try to dictate how things should go including what title company should be used. You will hear, things like “ I have a great working relationship with this title company and we can get things done quickly” or if an agent has brought you a buyer “ we should be able to choose where the title work is done since the client is buying the house.” Just say “no” …. It will be imperative to stay with the title company that you are working with because much of the work you do may need to be redone and delay or even sop the deal if you change title companies.
To reiterate: The First Step – Call a title company and ask what is needed to sell the property without going through a title. Remember to stay with the title company that gives you the list of information to gather because that is how the file passes final underwriting and title insurance is issued. It is noteworthy to understand that without title insurance you will almost always not be able to sell your property.
Second Step – Death Certificate
The next thing you will need to do is to get a Death Certificate. This is easy to do in the case of a deceased spouse but can be harder to do the further removed you are from the decedent. The thing to do is to contact the county, where the decedent passed away, and ask what department handles you obtaining a Death Certificate.
Once you have the right department (Vital Statistics) they will let you know what documentation and who can obtain the certificate. With identity theft on the rise, this is beginning to become a little harder to do. The reason this is the second step is this can take some time is needed and you do not want this to delay or slow down the process.
Third Step – Establish who is a Possible Heir
It would be important to do this to make sure you have the undivided right, or to understand who you will have to work with in order to sell the property.
If there is a will this is established and that named person can move forward with the Affidavit of Fact to give to the title company and have them produce the Affidavit of Heirships. If, however, a person passes without a will (known as Intestate in the state of Texas) then things get very interesting.
Below is a summary of Texas Intestate distribution as summarized by Rania Combs Attorney At Law. Look for your particular situation and determine, next, if you or others in the family have a right to sell the property.
INTESTATE DISTRIBUTION FOR SINGLE PEOPLE WITH NO CHILDREN
If you are single and die without a will in Texas, the Texas Estates Code dictates that your assets will be distributed as follows:
- Your estate will pass equally to your parents if both are living. If only one parent is alive, and you don’t have any brothers or sisters, then your entire estate will pass to your surviving parent.
- However, if you do have siblings or descendants of siblings (nieces and nephews), then your surviving parent would receive only half of the estate, and the remaining one half would be divided among your siblings or their descendants.
- Your entire estate would pass to your siblings or their descendants if you have no surviving parents.
- If you have no surviving descendants, parents, siblings, or descendants of siblings, then the estate is divided into two halves with one half passing to relatives on your mother’s side of the family and the other one half passing to relatives on your father’s side.
- If one side of the family has completely died out, the entire estate would pass to the surviving side of the family.
- On rare occasions, when an unmarried person dies without any surviving heir, his estate will pass to the State of Texas.
- Perhaps you have a close friend who you would have wanted to share in your estate. That would not be possible without a will.
INTESTATE DISTRIBUTION FOR THOSE WHO DIE UNMARRIED WITH CHILDREN
If you are single and have children, then all your property will pass to your descendants. If your descendants are of the same degree of relationship, (meaning, for example, that all are your children or all are your grandchildren), then the assets will be divided equally between them.
However, if your descendants are of different degrees of relationship, (meaning some of your children predecease you, leaving children or grandchildren of their own), then the younger generation would only be entitled only to the share the older generation would have received had he or she survived.
INTESTATE DISTRIBUTION FOR THOSE WHO DIE WHILE MARRIED
Many people may assume that if they are married and die without a will in Texas, their surviving spouse will inherit their entire estate. This is not always the case. How their property is divided depends on whether it is characterized as community property or separate property.
All property acquired during a marriage is presumed to be community property. Under Texas laws, if you are married and are survived by a spouse and children, then:
- Your surviving spouse will inherit all your community property if all your children are also the children of your surviving spouse;
- Otherwise, all your one-half interest in the community estate will pass to your children, with your spouse keeping only his or her one-half interest.
If you do not have any children, then your surviving spouse will inherit all of your community property.
If your property is characterized as separate property, the distribution scheme is different:
- If you have survived a spouse and children, your surviving spouse is entitled to one-third of your separate personal property and only a life estate (the right to use the property until his or her death) in one-third of your separate real property. The rest would be inherited outright by the children of the deceased spouse.
- If you are married but have no children or other descendants, your surviving spouse would be entitled to all the separate personal property. But if you have surviving parents and siblings, the surviving spouse would only be entitled to one-half of the separate real property with the other half passing to the parents, siblings or descendants of siblings in a manner set forth by the statutes.
Fourth Step – Affidavit of Fact
The title company will want to fill out Affidavits of Heirship for, as many as three, individuals to sign. They will let you know, or the form itself will let you know, how many individuals you will need for these affidavits. These Affidavits of Heirship will be affidavits, from disinterested individuals, known as Affiants, (those not benefiting from the sale of the property), proving the heirs to the property.
These disinterested parties will need to have known the decedent and the family for many years, usually at least 10, and be able and willing to sign a prepared affidavit that declares they believe a certain person or people are the rightful heirs to the property. In short, in the state of Texas, this will suffice to bypass the probate process and allow the sale of the property. The title company cannot prepare these affidavits without facts pertaining to the decedent and those who will sign the Affidavits of Heirship. For lack of a better term, we can call the fact-gathering document and needed information an Affidavit of Fact.
This information will be used by the title company to produce Affidavits of Heirship which will be signed by as many as three individuals and is the heart of bypassing probate. An example of a form labeled Affidavit of Fact is below to give you an idea of what is needed. Caution: If the deceased died intestate and has children under 18 just contact an attorney and do not move forward until you do.
AFFIDAVIT OF FACT
*** All information below must be filled in completely. Any pertinent information that is left blank may delay completion of this affidavit. The Title Insurance Company will rely upon this information and its representatives to produce a recordable document that will disclose the heirship of the decedent to complete the chain of title for all future parties interested in the subject property.
Name of Affiant: _______________________________________________________________________
Address of Affiant: ____________________________________________________________________
How long did the affiant know the decedent? ______________________________________________
Name of Decedent: ___________________________________________________________________
Name of Decedent’s Mother: ___________________________________________________________
Name of Decedent’s Father: ____________________________________________________________
Place of Death: _______________________________________________________________________
Address of Decedent (including county) at time of death: _____________________________________
Date of Death (attach a copy of the death certificate to this questionnaire) ________________________
Marital Status of decedent a time of death: Married or Single? __________________________________
If Married – Full name of widow/widower:__________________________________________________
Date of their Marriage: _________________________________________________________________
Describe the decedent’s marital history (include dates of marriage and divorce): ___________________
Is there confirmation from the affiant that the Decedent died without a will (intestate)? _____________
Is there confirmation that the decedent’s estate was not administrated or brought to court? For example, if it went to court, then there was administration. When it goes to court, either the executor (with a will-testate) or administrator (without a will-intestate) must sign off on behalf of the estate.
Did the decedent die Intestate (without a will) or Testate (with a will)? __________________________
Was or will the estate be probated? ______________________________________________________
****If decedent died Testate (with a will), please provide a complete copy of the will and any documents from probate proceedings.****
Except as above, was decedent married at any time during their ownership of the subject property? Yes or No: ______________________________________________________________________________
If YES, Full name of ex-spouse(s): __________________________________________________________
Dates of marriage/divorce (if unsure, give your best approximation): ___________________________
Termination of marriage by: Death of Spouse, Divorce, Other (please explain circumstances): ______
(Use additional sheet if necessary)
Did decedent have any children: __________________________________________________________
***The term children refers to all children born to the decedent (even if child was given up for adoption), legally adopted by the decedent of taken in by the decedent with the intent to adopt, whether living or deceased.***
If Yes, list each child’s name (living or deceased), each child’s date of birth and each child’s full address (including county):
(Use additional sheet if necessary)
If decedent was married at the time of death, are all of the above children of that marriage? _________
Are all of the above children 18 years of age or older? _________________________________________
*****If NO, stop here and consult a title officer or attorney for further instructions*****
Are all of the above children still living? ____________________________________________________
*****If NO, then explain circumstances for each deceased child*****
(Use additional sheet if necessary)
List the Decedent’s siblings (living or deceased) and their full addresses (including county): ___________
TWO DISINTERESTED PARTIES MUST SIGN THE FINAL RECORDABLE AFFIDAVIT. PLEASE LIST THE FULL LEGAL NAMES OF THE TWO PARTIES THAT WILL SIGN THE FINAL AFFIDAVIT: (Do not have them sign this document –please print their names only)
(Note: a disinterested party is any person that knows the family history of the decedent, can attest to all facts that are disclosed by the affidavit and has no material interest in the estate of the deceased nor the transaction being conducted.)
How long did the witnesses know the Decedent? _____________________________________________
This questionnaire was prepared by (name, address, phone number, e-mail): ______________________
Upon completion, please forward at your earliest convenience to your title company contact person for further processing.
Fifth Step – Affidavit of Heirship
Upon completion of the above, or like form from your title company, you would forward that information with the Death Certificate, Will (if applicable) and divorce decrees if possible. The title company will then prepare the Affidavits of Heirship. The documents then delivered to the Affiants you name for their notarized signatures. Once this has happened and they are returned it is all downhill to closing.
Note: This often seems like an arduous process. Often times a good investor, like myself, can get involved and make this process much easier and get things completed. Our time and energy are new to the scene and the fresh outlook with an objective in mind can make all the difference.
Also, like anything, things come up that may seem insurmountable. We have been involved in many of these types of transactions. Most things can be overcome without much outside hassle for you.
Let us know if we can help. Even if it seems there is no equity in the property due to the time it has been tied up, give me a call. The condition of the house doesn’t matter. There is almost always some way to help make a property, that is rightly yours from your family, a gift that can have a positive outcome in the end.
Zit Buy Homes works with inheritors in all aspects of the sale of their inherited property in Austin. We have extensive experience in buying inherited properties in Austin and the surrounding areas. We provide flexible options for inheritors with wills that are probated, wills that are not probated and heirs that have no will. Zit Buys Homes responds quickly, professionally, and we always have our clients best interest at heart. If you need to sell inherited property in Austin call 512-825-2525 today.