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What’s a Certified Probate Real Estate Specialist?


Unless your loved one puts their estate into a living trust or similar legal arrangement, the fact of the matter is that their assets will likely need to pass through probate when they die. Probate is a complicated, and usually lengthy, court process where assets are sold or distributed and any outstanding debts against the estate are settled. If your loved one has left behind property that needs to pass through probate, a certified probate real estate specialist can be a valuable partner in the process. Here’s a look at what this specific type of real estate professional does and how they can help as you navigate your loved one’s estate.

Disposing of an estate’s assets in an equitable and tax efficient manner is best done with the guidance and insight of a financial advisor.

What Is a Certified Probate Real Estate Specialist?

A certified probate real estate specialist, or CPRES, is a real estate professional who has completed an educational certification program centered around the probate process. This individual specializes in helping families navigate the estate process after a relative or other benefactor passes away.

CPRES professionals are well-versed in handling real estate assets that have wound up passing through probate. They also have extensive knowledge of:

They are a valuable – and often necessary – partner if you find yourself needing to sell a property that’s in probate.

What a Certified Probate Real Estate Specialist Does

Elderly man works with his real estate agent

So, what exactly is a certified probate real estate specialist’s role? A CPRES is trained to help navigate the probate court system. This includes monitoring legal deadlines and ensuring that they are not missed. He or she will also offer guidance on the complicated legal steps and documentation that are required as part of the probate process. They can also minimize the potential for disputes between heirs.

In addition to guiding you through the paperwork and other legal aspects of probate court, your CPRES can also recommend inspectors, appraisers, contractors and other professionals. This ensures that the passed-down property is accurately appraised, necessary repairs are made and that it is prepared to go on the market.

A CPRES-designated realtor will also walk you through every step of the marketing, negotiation, sale and escrow processes. They can help you market, sell and manage the proceeds from an estate-passed property as per the probate court’s rules. They also ensure that the sale of the property is as successful as possible.

Your CPRES will maintain communication among all heirs, minimizing conflict and making an already emotional process easier for all involved.

Why You’d Need a Certified Probate Real Estate Specialist

There are a few ways to avoid probate. However, all of them will need to have been established before the death of your loved one. To avoid property passing through probate, the owner can:

  • Establish a living trust, which holds and distributes the assets upon the owner’s death.
  • Own a property that is considered community property with a spouse. This allows it to pass automatically to the remaining spouse upon death.
  • Utilize a joint tenancy with right of survivorship. This allows for shared ownership between two or more people and passes the asset to the remaining owners upon death.

Without one of these arrangements, though – or if all owners of a jointly-held property pass away at the same time – probate is necessary.

If your loved one passes away, certain assets may need to be sold in order to satisfy his or her debts or distribute the estate equally among beneficiaries. When it comes to selling property – whether their primary home, rental house(s) or other real estate assets – an everyday real estate agent might not have the knowledge necessary to help you navigate the complicated probate process.

The Bottom Line

Notary seal and gavel on top of a law book

If you are the beneficiary of property assets that need to pass through probate, CPRES can help guide you along the way. These professionals are real estate agents who hold special certifications and are experts at probate court requirements. They also have the knowledge and understanding to help prep, market and sell the property in question. CPRES professionals can answer questions you have about probate and offer support, guidance and trusted advice along the way.

A CPRES isn’t the only professional who can guide you through a probate property sale. However, this prestigious designation often means that you have a well-versed and knowledgeable partner throughout the process.

Tips for Using a Certified Probate Real Estate Specialist

  • Consider working with a financial advisor if you have property assets that must pass through probate court. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors in your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor, get started now.
  • Participating in the probate sale of a residence requires a clear understanding of how much you can afford to spend. A free calculator will give you a quick estimate of what is possible given your resources.

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