Probate Leads: A Beginner’s Guide

What exactly is a probate? Unless you’ve had personal experience with one, many real estate investors first hear the term “probate” as something associated with off-market property leads. We’ll get into why they’re valuable and what to do with them, but first let’s define it in simple terms: a probate is the legal process to distribute all personal property of someone who is deceased. (For context, this person is referred to as the decedent.)

Unlike other lead types that fluctuate based on economic conditions (such as foreclosures, evictions, etc.), probates are much more consistent. It makes sense – people pass away every day, and that will continue regardless of how our economy is performing or what legislation is being passed.

On average, there are over 900 probates filed in the state of Wisconsin every month. Out of 72 counties, Brown County has the 4 th highest number of probate filings, averaging just under 40 probates a month.

Based on those numbers, you probably guessed that a probate isn’t required for all deaths. In fact, this entire process can be avoided with estate planning prior to passing, but not everyone is aware or has the means to execute on these processes. Simply having a will written up is not enough to avoid probate, but it can make the distribution of assets a little more straight forward. However, if there is no will to reference, the distribution process can be much more time intensive and complex.

This is one of the reasons why each probate typically has a single person appointed to handle the execution of the will and division of assets. This person is referred to as the Special Administrator or Executor of the Estate and is the person you want to contact to discuss whether any real estate involved.

In the event an Executor has not been appointed or you’re unable to reach them, there is often a list of other people involved in the probate. You may find spouses, heirs, beneficiaries, petitioners, creditors, and other interested parties. It may be worth building a relationship with these individuals so you’re top of mind when the time comes to discuss any real estate.

That said, it’s important to keep in mind the multitude of stressors people go through during the probate process. Not only are these people dealing with loss, they are now forced to untangle the web of paying off debts and distributing ownership of assets. It often comes with tracking down a seemingly endless number of documents/records, disagreements over the will, family feuds, making lots of stressful decisions, and countless other issues that need to be solved before completing the probate process.

So, it’s clear that a probate can take a lot of time, energy, and emotional fortitude. Considering that all of this is piled on top of these people’s already busy lives, it’s not difficult to imagine how eager they may be to have someone take one or more of these problems off their shoulders.

This is where investors like us can provide value. We can buy the decedent’s house as-is so the family can forget about all the cleanout, repairs, or updates they were expecting to do before listing the house. It’s a quick and easy solution to one of the many problems they’re tasked to handle.

But why stop there? As mentioned, these people are dealing with a lot more than just the sale of a house. Leverage your network and problem-solving skills to help find solutions to other problems they’re dealing with. Think about how you can help allocate the remaining items of the estate sale, find temporary housing for out-of-state family members, assist with junk removal services, recommend tax or legal services, and more. It’s a great way to bring massive value, build relationships, and create raving fans who will refer you to others down the road.

If you’d like to get started pursuing probate leads, you can gather case filings from public record through the court system for free. If you’d like that done for you, we collect and organize this information daily at Consistency is key to finding deals, so we automate the data collection process to keep you focused on the most important parts: talking with people and making offers. Get in front of people and solve problems, and you’ll have a probate property under your belt in no time.

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