Probate Marketing - When is the Best Time to Contact the PR?

10 Replies

FYI, I'm trying to make our probate marketing efforts more financially efficient, which is the basis for this thread.

I gather my own leads at the county.

My questions:

Quite often the inventory for the estate isn't filed and placed into the case files until 6 or 8 months (if not more) after the case is filed at the county, so...

Question #1 - Is there a way to identify when the best time is to start mailing the PR (Executor) of the probate case (if at all)?

For a while, we were mailing to PR's right after the case opened, trying to "get in early" on starting the conversation with the PR about the property.

Question #2 - But after thinking about it more, it dawned on me that that may not be smart, because if there's real estate in the estate that's going through probate, the PR can't sell the property until the probate case is closed, right?

Being early is one thing, but if they can't sell 'till the case is closed, mailing/calling over the course of 6-8 months (in some instances) before they can actually sell can be somewhat of a waste.

I've seen instances where the property that was in the name of the Decedent is sold before or shortly after the probate case was opened.

Question #3 - Does this mean that the property that belonged to the Decedent doesn't always have to be included in the probate case?

I've tried to get a little smarter, so I recently decided to start waiting to contact the PR until the estate inventory form gets filed (so I can verify that the property owned by the Decedent is even involved in the probate case).

But if I decide to wait, I began to think that I could be missing out on a chance to get dibs on the property, since the PR is likely still influential on what happens to the property (even if it's not included in the estate that's going through probate).

Question #4 - Would you agree or disagree with that line of thinking?

Question #5 - If the Will designates the party that gets the property upon the death of the Decedent, does that prevent the property from being included in the probate proceedings?

In other words, could that property be sold before the probate case is closed, if the descendant (that inherited the property via the will) chose to do so?

I've been wondering if I need to start reading the will that's in the file to get a clue if there's property involved in the estate or not.

Sorry for the length of this post.  Just trying to get a clearer understanding of how this all works.  

Thanks for your time and help.

Nevermind guy, my attorney finally called back and answered my questions :-)

@Chris L. in so many words, he said it's best to just start marketing to the PR when the case opens, because you never know when the probate proceedings are going to give them the go-ahead to start liquidating the assets.

He said that the point where PR's get the go-ahead to liquidate the assets in an estate varies from case-to-case, so trying to time when the right time is to start marketing to a PR is extremely hard to do.

I think some counties around here will tell you when the "next event" will be, but I don't feel like going that far in-depth with the analysis.

I also learned that regardless of whether or not there's a will involved, the probate court needs to give them the go-ahead for to liquidate before the person that inherits the property from the will receives it, so reading the will (if there's one in the file) is kind of a moot point.

In Conclusion

The only thing I'm going to change/add to my routine from my conversation with the lawyer earlier, is to continuously pull the files of estates we've already marketed to in the past that are still "open" to see if they've been updated with an inventory...

If they have been, we'll read the inventory to see if there's a property in the estate; if there is, we'll continue marketing to the PR...

If not, we'll remove them from the list, and use this routine to keep our list as "clean" as possible.

@Alvin Grier Hi Alvin,

I've been hesitant to mail to recently filed probate cases because of the lack of knowledge as to whether or not an estate is involved. I've only been mailing to open probate cases with an estate listed in the inventory. Needless to say, my mailing list is THIN! 

So can you clarify for me the following:

1. Are you mailing to the PR of only a certain type of probate case (IE. Regular estate) to weed out cases without estates? 

2. When you mail to the PR before inventory is filed, what are you saying in your letters if you don't know that there is an estate involved?

3. Have you had success mailing to attorneys who have been appointed PR?

Thank you. 

Sophie Thomas, LifeWeb Investing | [email protected]

Hi Alvin,

Your attorney gave you some sound advice. There really isn't any way to tell when the best time would be to do your mailing. I'm do a lot of probate real estate sales. I work for several different attorneys in the Los Angeles area. The attorney will contact me to give them a valuation of the property, so he/she has a good understanding of the value and usually submits that value to the courts during the Inventory and Appraisal of the estate. So, I usually know of these properties to be sold, months before they hit the market. It gives me time to talk to investors, even thought I don't have the listing, yet. When I do get the listing I usually have a buyer or two lined up and we get it into escrow the day it is listed. What I'm trying to tell you is that I think earlier is better. Let it be know that you are interested in the property. Send the attorney a letter stating your financial ability and time frame. Believe me, you may not hear back form the attorney, but he will pass on that information to the listing agent. You want to get in the game early. For example, I am the Realtor in Los Angeles for a fairly large estate. I've know of these properties for months before I listed them. I contacted an investor in the area and got 8 of the properties under contract to the same investor 2 months before the estate was ready to list them. I brought them an offer they couldn't refuse. Also, from my experience it helps if you add a few things to you marketing, such as, you are an all cash buyer, can close escrow form 10 days to several months, depending on the estate (they may need time to clear the property of tenants) and you are willing to take the property in its "as is" condition.

I hope this helps you and anyone else that reads this.

Brian

Originally posted by @Account Closed :

Hi Alvin,

Your attorney gave you some sound advice. There really isn't any way to tell when the best time would be to do your mailing. I'm do a lot of probate real estate sales. I work for several different attorneys in the Los Angeles area. The attorney will contact me to give them a valuation of the property, so he/she has a good understanding of the value and usually submits that value to the courts during the Inventory and Appraisal of the estate. So, I usually know of these properties to be sold, months before they hit the market. It gives me time to talk to investors, even thought I don't have the listing, yet. When I do get the listing I usually have a buyer or two lined up and we get it into escrow the day it is listed. What I'm trying to tell you is that I think earlier is better. Let it be know that you are interested in the property. Send the attorney a letter stating your financial ability and time frame. Believe me, you may not hear back form the attorney, but he will pass on that information to the listing agent. You want to get in the game early. For example, I am the Realtor in Los Angeles for a fairly large estate. I've know of these properties for months before I listed them. I contacted an investor in the area and got 8 of the properties under contract to the same investor 2 months before the estate was ready to list them. I brought them an offer they couldn't refuse. Also, from my experience it helps if you add a few things to you marketing, such as, you are an all cash buyer, can close escrow form 10 days to several months, depending on the estate (they may need time to clear the property of tenants) and you are willing to take the property in its "as is" condition.

I hope this helps you and anyone else that reads this.

Brian

 Really great information.  I'm in Los Angeles and interested in learning more about the probate process.  Are there any sources you would recommend?

Hi David, I'm not sure what you're looking for? Anything I can do to help, I will. There is a ton of information on this site regarding probates. What is it I can help you with?

@Sophie Thomas Huh?

The 'estate' is the aggregate assets, including receivables, less debts. There may or may not be real property assets.

There are asset-less estates occasionally opened in order to facility a wrongful death matter. 

Perhaps you're thinking of an estate with no equity? No real estate? No identified heirs?

@Rick H. wow! Sorry. I'm new. 😀 What I meant by estate was really a physical house; aka...real property assets. Did I say that right? My question then is, is it a good idea to mail to the PR of a recently filed probate case even if the inventory has not been filed? Thanks for your help! 

Sophie Thomas, LifeWeb Investing | [email protected]

After doing some research, I stopped my practice of only reaching out to PR's of estates that had real estate mentioned in the inventories.

Why?  Because I went back through my spreadsheet and noticed that several people told me that they had already sold the properties or had offers pending that never had real estate listed in the inventory.

How this happens, I'm not sure.

Perhaps there's some loophole that allows the PR to sell without having to include the property in the estate of the decedent...  not sure.

...or maybe the family/PR chose to sell it before the decedent officially passed, to prevent having to include it in the estate (which sounds more likely).

Nevertheless, I just check tax records to make sure that the decedent owned the particular property they lived in at the time of death and move forward with contacting the PR from there.

So @Account Closed you think it's advantageous to contact the attorney involved with the case as well as the Executor/PR, huh?  I considered it, but I figured that the PR had the ultimate decision...

I've recently seen that sometimes the PR's put all their trust in the attorney, so if that's the case, it wouldn't hurt to reach out to them as well.  We recently made a cash offer to a PR, and their reply was, "Well I'll run it past my attorney... he wants me to get 3-5 cash offers before we decide to close with someone."

Free eBook from BiggerPockets!

Ultimate Beginner's Guide Book Cover

Join BiggerPockets and get The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Real Estate Investing for FREE - read by more than 100,000 people - AND get exclusive real estate investing tips, tricks and techniques delivered straight to your inbox twice weekly!

  • Actionable advice for getting started,
  • Discover the 10 Most Lucrative Real Estate Niches,
  • Learn how to get started with or without money,
  • Explore Real-Life Strategies for Building Wealth,
  • And a LOT more.

Lock We hate spam just as much as you