At its core, probate is the process of administering a decedent’s estate to their heirs. This is most of the time outlined in the deceased’s final will and testament. Most of us have heard the stories about how long the probate process usually is, and how many headaches one gets while managing it, so we naturally dread it when we actually have to manage the process.
In actuality, when it is done right, the probate process for a house in Greenville can be simplified into four easy steps.
Unfortunately both the dread and simplicity often open people up to certain probate scams.
The emotions and planning of it make the inexperienced an easy mark. Let’s look at how the probate process works, what kinds of scams there are out there, and how you can avoid them!
Probate Process for a House in Greenville | How To Avoid Getting Scammed
Probate Process for a House in Greenville
Without the right kind of trust in place, probate usually follows a person’s passing.
Probate is the process by which the decedent’s debts are settled and their property (held in their name alone and not otherwise legally distributed) is transferred to beneficiaries and heirs.
Typically, the probate process follows four, mostly simple, steps.
- A petition is filed with the probate court to admit the will and appoint an executor or, if there’s no will, to appoint an administrator of the estate. A hearing date is set, and a notice of the hearing is published locally.
- After being appointed by the court, the decedent’s personal representative gives notice to all creditors, and an inventory of the estate is made.
- Claims made by creditors will then be proven accurate or thrown out. The personal representative pays all expenses, debts, and taxes from the estate. Sometimes, this involves selling estate assets to meet obligations.
- Assets (legal title to a house, for instance) are disbursed according to the decedent’s wishes expressed in the will or, in case there is no will, according to the state’s intestate succession laws.
And that’s it for the probate process for a house in Greenville and for the entire estate as well. Just be wary about any scams that may pop up along the way.
Common Probate Scams
Scams are always used until they don’t work anymore, re-tooled, and implemented in a different way to make sure that they stay effective.
Chiefly, they are done by the Internet and email. Any time a scam is successful, it’s on a vulnerable person who may not be aware of the scam’s existence.
- Probate Avoidance Scam – The perpetrators of this scam usually target the elderly. It involves persuading victims to buy fraudulent products that purport to help them avoid probate. An example of this can include an exceedingly expensive “Living Trust Kit”. Once the conmen have the money, they either never deliver the product or send you a packet that is completely and legally useless.
- Inheritance/Estate Tax Scam – Some states still levy an inheritance or estate tax. Using a trusted person’s or organization’s name, scammers contact potential executors/personal representatives informing them that they stand to inherit a bunch of money. The only catch is that – because in these states the tax must be paid before probate can go forward – the victims must first send the scammers an inflated tax.
- Fraudulent Listings Scam – This one owes its effectiveness to the popularity of sites like Craigslist for home shoppers, especially renters, and applies particularly to the probate process for a house in Greenville. Scammers research the property of recently deceased individuals and advertise it for rent. Then, when the scammers collect the deposit and first month’s rent, they disappear, leaving the people engaged in probate to deal with the upset victim.
If you’re facing probate, especially the probate process for a house in Greenville, it’s probably not as ominous and frightening as it first seems. Knowing what it involves and being aware of the common probate scams are good first steps – but there’s more to consider.