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The Probate Process Simplified: A Homeowner’s Guide


If you’ve recently come into possession of a property because of a loved one’s passing, you might be feeling overwhelmed.



 The word ‘probate’ probably keeps popping up and, to be honest, it’s not the most straightforward thing. 



But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!



 I’m here to help you understand the probate process in Nebraska, from a friendly neighbor’s perspective. 



NOTE: We’re not attorneys, however we are trusted homebuyers in Nebraska who work alongside experienced Probate attorneys to help you pass a property through probate!



Why Probate?



I Think of probate as the official stamp of approval from the court, verifying that everything related to an estate is sorted out—like debts, taxes, and property distribution.



 In Nebraska, even if there’s a will, probate is needed to validate it.



And this is a good thing… They want to make sure everyone gets what’s due to them and treated fairly and the debts are collected and/or agreed on with a solution. 

Probate has to be done — even with a will.



Except for a few occasions highlighted in this article…



Probate HAS to be done in order to transfer ownership from the deceased owner to a new owner. 



The property cannot pass to another person until it passes through probate 

 Some Quick Probate Terms



– Administrator: A person appointed by the court to manage and distribute the estate if the decedent died intestate or did not name an executor in their will.



– Beneficiary: An individual or entity (like a charity) named in a will or a trust to receive assets or profits from an estate.



– Decedent: The individual who has passed away, leaving behind an estate that may need to be settled through the probate process.



– Estate Inventory: An official list of the deceased person’s property.



– Executor/Executrix: The person appointed in the will to manage the decedent’s estate. If a woman, she might be referred to as the executrix.



– Heirs: The people entitled to inherit the deceased person’s property.



– Personal Representative: This is the court-appointed individual responsible for handling the estate—could be you!



– Will: A legal document that indicates how the decedent wished to distribute their property and assets after death.

How long does it take? 

4-6 months



BUT… it can take longer (even a year) depending on the estate’s size, creditor claims, and potential challenges to the will or the appointment of the Personal Representative, the duration could extend considerably.



How much does it cost? 



$4,000 – $7,500



Unfortunately, there is a cost to probate. 



It’s a complicated situation you’re in… 



The owner of the property passed… and debts have to be settled, and transfer of the property has to be done (even with a will), and all the stuff in the house has to be dealt with.

Without a court handling this… it would be a MESSY situation in families. 



And families could even get sued by creditors.


You don’t want that to happen. 



So, the best thing to do is get it settled ASAP.



Here’s a list of what these costs are: 



  1. Court Fees: The probate process takes place within the judicial system. Thus, there are associated court fees. These fees can vary based on the size of the estate and the jurisdiction, but they are necessary to cover administrative costs and maintain the operation of the courts.



  1. Attorney Fees: Legal processes can be intricate and demanding. Engaging an attorney to navigate the complexities of probate law, file necessary paperwork, and represent the estate can be indispensable. However, attorneys charge for their expertise and time, and depending on the complexity of the estate, these fees can accumulate.



  1. Executor or Personal Representative Compensation: The executor (or personal representative) is tasked with administering the deceased’s estate. This is often a time-consuming job that includes tasks like notifying creditors, paying debts, and distributing assets. Because of the responsibilities involved, the executor is typically entitled to compensation. This compensation can be a percentage of the estate’s value or a flat fee, as dictated by local laws or the deceased’s will.



  1. Appraisal and Business Valuation Fees: To ensure assets are distributed fairly, it’s often necessary to appraise property and other valuable items within the estate. If the deceased owned a business, a valuation might be needed. Professionals who provide these services charge fees.



  1. Miscellaneous Costs: Other costs can emerge, including those for publishing legal notices, securing and insuring property, and settling any disputes that arise during the probate process.



  1. Tax Payments: Depending on the size and nature of the estate, there might be state and/or federal taxes to be paid. While this isn’t a ‘fee’ in the traditional sense, it’s an associated cost that needs to be covered.



Do you need a lawyer for Probate? 

While there’s no legal requirement to have a lawyer help you through probate, it can make the journey less bumpy. They can guide you, especially if there are challenges to the will or if the estate is complicated.



What If I Just… Don’t Probate?

There’s some (bad) advice online about NOT going through probate — Which is false.



All properties that have a single individual owner (no trust or LLC/Corp) with no “transfer on death” deed or similiar… have to go through probate (even with a will).



If there’s any debt or obligations on the property or with the deceased owner, then the beneficiaries or heirs most likely will get sued along with the estate.



What to do while I wait

Probate in Nebraska is LONG (3-4 months or more).



So while you’re waiting for the courts here are some tips:



    1. Check up on the property every month. 
      1. Open up windows while you’re there — to get in fresh air and prevent mildew
      2. Check the plumbing — for any leaks
      3. Run the HVAC — to make sure its still working and heat the house if needed
      4. Look for critter evidence — mouse droppings, insects, etc, to see if you need pest control 
  • Keep your papers handy and multiple copies
      1. Death certificate
      2. Will
      3. Deed
      4. Loan information 
  • Pay for any bills ( if you can)
      1. Don’t let the bills pile up and cost you more with all the fees.  
  • Seek an attorney if you haven’t already
      1. We can help with that 
  • Find a buyer or an agent
      1. We can get you a cash offer this week! Call us to at least see the offer: 402-413-0424 
  • Keep the property maintenance to keep the value up
    1. Lawn mowed
    2. Lawn watered
    3. Mail collected
    4. Utilities managed
    5. Alternatively: unlike most buyers, we look past all that stuff and offer a fair price to buy it! 

How to Probate with no out-of-pocket costs



If you don’t have the $4,000-$8,000 lying around then there is one way you can go through probate without paying for it: 



Selling it. 



That might not be everyone’s first choice, but the fact of the matter is you have to go through probate and the costs have to be paid. 



And courts and attorneys who know that you want to sell it, will go through the process with no upfront costs required, and get paid with the proceeds of the sale — assuming there’s enough equity. 



We have an entire article on how to do this here

What to do with the property?



I’m sure you have ideas circling your head about what to do with an inherited property.. 



You’re either had in your mind you want to sell 



(If that’s the case for you, call us today at 402-413-0424 for a cash offer!) 



Or you’re considering renting the property once you get legal transfer of it… 



If that’s the case, check out our article on how to rent a probate article.





Need to sell your inherited property?


Give us a call/text for an offer: 402-413-0424


We’ll help you navigate the Probate Process cost free

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