What Happens to a House in Probate?

Dec 1, 2021 | Uncategorized

What Happens to a House in Probate?

A home is usually an estate’s most expensive holding, but it doesn’t have to be a big challenge during probate. 

Ushering a house through probate may sound intimidating. After all, the deceased’s property is more than likely the costliest holding in the estate. It is because homes and similar holdings (such as land) are worth so much that Georgia has laws in place governing how to handle them. Although executors will have to contend with title transfers and the possibility of putting the house up for sale, the responsibilities involved are fortunately straightforward.

Two Paths: Inheritance or Intestate

The most common home ownership scenario executors face is an inheritance or, in the event no will was left behind, intestate. In the case of a will or similar document, the deceased’s legally-recognized end-of-life instructions designate an heir who is to receive the keys to the property. 


Intestate situations occur when no will exists, or if the end-of-life documents do not list an inheritor for the home. Georgia has laws regarding the line of succession should you find yourself in an intestate situation; executors do not hold the authority to elect heirs in these scenarios.


While the title awaits the probate date for transferring to the inheritor, the executor pays for any bills such as utility, property tax, or mortgage that may arise. These bills should be paid for out of the estate, never the executor or inheritor’s own coffers. 

What if the Home Stays with the Estate?

Sometimes, executors end up in situations where responsibility for the home falls to them. This usually happens when the heir relinquishes their inheritance, and the probate court does not put the property through intestate succession. In these instances, the executor takes control of handling any repairs, bills, and real estate processes preceding a sale. As with the time between the deceased’s passing and their inheritor receiving the title, the money toward all expenses involved in putting the home on the market come from the estate, not the executor. 


Should the executor wind up in control of the property, there are three options available regarding how to unload it.  

Hire a Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent—which, yes, gets paid for out of the estate—can be a massive help to an executor already stretched in multiple directions. They’ll take on the responsibilities involved in listing the home and showing it to potential buyers. Most real estate agents also serve as advisors on what upgrades and repairs to make in order to increase the chance of a property sale, and can recommend the best contractors for the job. 

Repair and List Yourself 

More DIY-inclined executors may want to bypass working with a real estate agent entirely and take care of deciding which repairs and upgrades to make, contractors to hire, and listings to post themselves. Repairing the home and listing it yourself involves a lot more work for the executor, but does offer a lot more control over everything involving the property sale. 

Sell to a Home Buyer

Home buyers, like our friends and partners at Arbor View Properties, offer the fastest property sale options for harried executors. They purchase the home as-is, regardless of the condition. No need for costly repairs, listings, or a six-to-twelve-month wait to find a buyer.  


Executors may also have to communicate with tenants residing on the property. There are a few different options for how to work with tenants during and after probate. No matter which one you pick, you will have to communicate with all residents to ensure they know about any changes ahead. 

The Ins and Outs of Georgia Probate

Our main goal here at Georgia Probate Resource is to make the often difficult processes behind probate a little simpler for executors, inheritors, and family members alike. We hope to untangle some of the technicalities and legalese to help you during this deeply emotional time. For further information about homes, probate, and intestate, we refer you to the following blog posts: 


Intestate Guide | My Loved One Died Without a Will. Now What?


Checklist: How to Sell Probate Property


What to do with Inherited Belongings


What to do if Your Inherit a Home with Tenants