probates

30 Replies

Does anyone know where is the best place to get probate leads?

Hi Alex. The answer is both simple and complex. The court rules depend on which state you are in and to some extent which county. Probates are under the jurisdiction of the county Superior Court. You don't have to learn probate law, at least not in detail. But, you do need a working knowledge of the process when an estate is handled under the Independent Administration of Estates Act (much preferred) vs. public bidding in open court in front of the judge. Also, you need to know the probate documents the heirs have to sign (in addition to the normal Purchase and Sale agreement.) In California, in almost all counties you have to go to the county Superior Court record's department and request the files. Note: this is NOT the county Recorder's office. Online court records, by state law, only list very basic info such as decedent's name and file number. You have to write down the file number and then go to the court records office to view the file. Two ways to do this. One, many counties have what they call a "Probate Bucket" that they keep out on a table or you can request it to view the latest rolling five day's filings. Most counties limit the number of files you can view per day, often five or ten. The other way is to get a list of file numbers from the court online list and then request those files in person. Again, some counties restrict the number of file requests per day and/or make you come back the next day to view the files. Also, you have no way of knowing if the decedent owned any real estate (many do not) without actually reading the file. The number of heirs, joint owners, and the location of the Personal Representative can add a lot of complexity. This is not a quick, easy investment method. It's work and it's expensive (gas, drive time, having to return the next day, possibly paying someone to go the court for you, direct mail costs, follow-up, etc.) Your biggest competition will be realtors who establish relationships with probate attorneys who then refer them to the Personal Representative as soon as the probate is filed and maybe a few days before. Also, don't believe the gurus who claim that all heirs want to sell the house quickly and will take a big discount just to get rid of it. A few do, many don't. Again, this is work.

I had a similar question. Say I walk into the county courthouse and want to find probates and pre-NODs - what/who should I ask?

Are we allowed to copy the information we find for our own keep?

Your court house will have probate files, you just need to learn how they are organized. They won't know anything about pre NOD's.

You might try U.S. Probate Leads.... they go to courthouses all over the U.S and collect this data on a consistent basis. Since it is collected "by hand", these records are more expensive than a regular mailing list - expect to pay $2 to $4 per leads. Unfortunately, they often do not know if the estate contains real estate.

Originally posted by @Dev Horn Horn:
You might try U.S. Probate Leads.... they go to courthouses all over the U.S and collect this data on a consistent basis. Since it is collected "by hand", these records are more expensive than a regular mailing list - expect to pay $2 to $4 per leads. Unfortunately, they often do not know if the estate contains real estate.

Whoa. Do you know that to be true? US Probate Leads is selling estate/probate leads that don't have real property? That's pretty condemning if they are marketing to RE investors. In my areas, I do my own estate leads. A significant percentage of probate filings in my farms don't have real property. If I'm paying US Probate for leads, that would mean I would be paying for leads where a significant percentage doesn't have real estate. That would turn the lead cost to double, at least where I am.

Originally posted by Kristine Marie Poe:
Originally posted by @Dev Horn Horn:
You might try U.S. Probate Leads.... they go to courthouses all over the U.S and collect this data on a consistent basis. Since it is collected "by hand", these records are more expensive than a regular mailing list - expect to pay $2 to $4 per leads. Unfortunately, they often do not know if the estate contains real estate.

Whoa. Do you know that to be true? US Probate Leads is selling estate/probate leads that don't have real property?

Yes, it is definitely true because I've bought these leads for markets all over the U.S. The problem is, when a probate is filed with the court, the inventory of the estate is often not yet completed or filed. So they know there is a new probate but don't have knowledge of what property is included in the estate. This is my understanding, I don't work for that company and there may be other issues that prevent them from getting info on real estate owned by the deceased party.

I would get to know the people in the courthouse that work estates. I know in my area they allowed me to purchase a key to make copies of all probates they put on the shelf. You can hire someone to go do and do this for you or you can do yourself. Make sure you keep a spreadsheet and track who you mailed letters out to and calls.

Hey Dev - in CA, the initial document filed, Petition for Probate, includes basic info about real property, a WAG value and same as to encumbrance(s).

May be limits to this info in other states, and some probates are opened without knowledge of all assets, however I'm not buying the missing property excuse for USprobateLeads.com excluding this valuable data.

It's rare in CA that a probate is filed without at least some basic knowledge of the existence of a property. It is typically the catalyst for the filing in the first place.

Originally posted by @Rick H. :
Hey Dev - in CA, the initial document filed, Petition for Probate, includes basic info about real property, a WAG value and same as to encumbrance(s).

May be limits to this info in other states, and some probates are opened without knowledge of all assets, however I'm not buying the missing property excuse for USprobateLeads.com excluding this valuable data.

It's rare in CA that a probate is filed without at least some basic knowledge of the existence of a property. It is typically the catalyst for the filing in the first place.

Not rare in my markets. Easily 20% of filings have no real property. Paying a lead source for 20% useless leads isn't very compelling. I can gather the same unfiltered info pretty easily and quickly

Then there's the issue of useless real property. Big counties with lots of junk land (think TX, think CA) will have a percentage of probate actions transferring junk land. Which further reduces the real "leads" that data providers like US Probates are providing.

Just counting the minutes till a google alert triggers the company in question here, or their shills.......

Originally posted by @Dev Horn :
Originally posted by @K. Marie Poe:
Originally posted by @Dev Horn Horn:
You might try U.S. Probate Leads.... they go to courthouses all over the U.S and collect this data on a consistent basis. Since it is collected "by hand", these records are more expensive than a regular mailing list - expect to pay $2 to $4 per leads. Unfortunately, they often do not know if the estate contains real estate.

Whoa. Do you know that to be true? US Probate Leads is selling estate/probate leads that don't have real property?

Yes, it is definitely true because I've bought these leads for markets all over the U.S. The problem is, when a probate is filed with the court, the inventory of the estate is often not yet completed or filed. So they know there is a new probate but don't have knowledge of what property is included in the estate. This is my understanding, I don't work for that company and there may be other issues that prevent them from getting info on real estate owned by the deceased party.

I guess the real question is whether the wasted marketing dollars spent on leads without real property are worth it. The real cost isn't the $2 or $4 or $8 paid per lead, but rather the total marketing budget going to those leads..

"Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half." ~ John Wanamaker (attributed)

K. Marie Poe - we're in "violent agreement."

My point is that IF a property was part of the probate, it's typically disclosed at time of filing, therefore is should NOT be an excuse as to why this data vendor cannot separate out the files that don't contain real estate.

Sure, lots of file contain crap property, too. Junky land, scrap lots, remote unaccessible land, houses in Taft (whoops, that's your farm, sorry). Mobiles on land in Bodfish (that's for Ellis). However, I'm ok filtering out those gems as long as I'm not paying for 'other asset' estate data.

We on the same page now?

Originally posted by @Rick H. :
K. Marie Poe - we're in "violent agreement."

My point is that IF a property was part of the probate, it's typically disclosed at time of filing, therefore is should NOT be an excuse as to why this data vendor cannot separate out the files that don't contain real estate.

Sure, lots of file contain crap property, too. Junky land, scrap lots, remote unaccessible land, houses in Taft (whoops, that's your farm, sorry). Mobiles on land in Bodfish (that's for Ellis). However, I'm ok filtering out those gems as long as I'm not paying for 'other asset' estate data.

We on the same page now?

We're on the same page if we agree that US Probates has no excuse for selling "leads" that don't include real property.

Ellis isn't the only one working Bodfish. .

@Alex Morales Try The Daily Breeze and look for "Notice of Petition to Administer Estate" or if your ever in Corte Madera/Larkspur area (Twin Cities) look for the Marin Independent Journal. Your starting point is Petition for Probate doc (DE-111) Cross reference Estate of (last name) with address, city and county of decedents residence at time of demise (death) Again cross reference this info with your title rep (property profile) to see if the decedent had real estate. If your ever in the city of Martinez (Contra Costa county) you can scan/research file #P97-00727 Estate of Pedroza. I don't remember signing off on probate documents except for Request for Special Notice (DE-154). Drive time from Sac county to 625 Ward St. was time consuming and I needed to know what was going on with the case file.

Yes "dad" had additional property in San Francisco (1182-1184 Treat St) and using I.A.E.A without court supervision but with Notice of Proposed Action (DE-165) Treat St property sold for a screaming/yelling 1997 price of $255,000.00.!!!

Rick did you faint/up chuck??

With all new endeavors (r.e) this may first be overwhelming to you but take small steps and don't worry about Guru's and competition and be careful if your going to purchase "probate leads".

Mark

(N-CA)

Sac/Placer counties

@rick pedroza. Thanks Rick. Very useful

Hey Mark, you're a better teacher than I. You've also got loads more patience. Good job on this thread.

Mark, I live in Marin County (Corte Madera) and in recent years most Notices of Probate have no longer been published in the Marin IJ. Just too expensive since they have to be published several times. Most are now published in the local city papers. Twin cities has one, West Marin has one, etc. Actually, for Marin the easiest is to just go to the Records office. They have a Probate Bucket and are one of the counties that let you look at all filed the past 5 days, sometimes more. Contra Costa is another county with a bucket. Sonoma county only allows you to view a limited number per day. For earlier filings you need to fill out a form and, depending on the time of day, may have to return the next day.

Jeremy. Probate information is part of the Superior Court records. NODs are part of the County Recorder's office. But, there is no way to locate PRE-NOD's at a Recorder's office because, by definition, no Notice of Default has yet been filed and recorded. In California banks do not file an NOD until a payment is at least 90 days past due and sometimes much longer. Depending on the county, the NOD may be filed and date stamped as the recording date, one day but it may take several days for it to actually be entered and viewable in the computer system.

One big reason US Probate Leads provides all probates is because there are other people/groups that want the entire list. Investors are actually a small group. The major group is bonding companies that want to market bonds to the Personal Representative. Courts require that the Personal Representative post a bond so the estate is protected. Only if the will names someone as Personal Rep AND states that no bond be required will a bond not be demanded by the court. Bonding companies do not care if there is real estate or not.

Originally posted by @Robert Davidson :
One big reason US Probate Leads provides all probates is because there are other people/groups that want the entire list. Investors are actually a small group. The major group is bonding companies that want to market bonds to the Personal Representative. Courts require that the Personal Representative post a bond so the estate is protected. Only if the will names someone as Personal Rep AND states that no bond be required will a bond not be demanded by the court. Bonding companies do not care if there is real estate or not.

Thanks for pointing that out. Their product/service is to compile and sell the list to those marketing products and services to estates. Real estate investors aren't necessarily the target customer.

I respectfully disagree. Bonding companies are involved prior to issuance of Letters and are often the company that actually arrange the doc filing and legal publishing.

In CA, by far the largest probate market in the U.S., there is one primary bonding company offering probate bonds. Legal pub is not always required, and some estates may waive bond as we'll as some bench officers.

As a fiduciary, I have a "master bond" which allows me to pull bond without application each time, if and when required.

Typically, bond company (Bond Services here) picks up Petition and files in court for attorney in lieu of necessitating use of an attorney service. Their market share is well over 90%. I guess if the # 2 guys have a piece, it's an oligopoly, not a monopoly. Anyway, they provide outstanding service and I've known all of the owners for twenty+ years.

15 minutes to save 15%... or, 7 minutes with...

While manually looking up probate leads in various papers is the tried-and-true method of researching the names and file numbers of decedents, we are buying probate properties in multiple states and needed a much more efficient means of procuring leads.

If you are in California, search here:  http://www.capublicnotice.com/ and then run the names through your title company database in the appropriate county. Just don't forget to give all of your business to the title company that helped you, so you can sleep well at night! 

You may also choose to research the discovered case numbers at the courthouse, as Mr. Pedroza wisely suggests, to mine for the necessary contact information.

If you are elsewhere in the Country, you may find your state listed here:

http://www.publicnoticeads.com/

These tools are effective at discovering the names and case numbers of the decedents, but you still need to subscribe to an excellent reverse-address search service to obtain phone numbers. We pay ours $49 a month, but their accuracy is the highest we've found.

Happy hunting!

(If this is helpful to you, please give me a vote of confidence!) Thanks.

Definitely get in touch with @Sharon Vornholt . She's had success in this niche and has done a great deal of write-ups on the subject for the BP blog. Hope that helps!

If you got time, you can scrape it on your own using your local county clerk records. Don't require expert knowledge just what you're looking for exactly, common sense to correlate your search to the types of homes you'll be targeting, and time...

You can use a paid scraper if you have the money, absolutely, but me, I 1st like to know how it's done before I outsource it to a VA or third party. Stuff happens and if you're dependent on that 3rd party for all or a portion of your business you should know what they do before the disappear on you for what ever reason.

GL

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