Selling A House In Probate In Massachusetts

by | Mar 11, 2024

Probate is a legal process that occurs after someone passes away. It involves the distribution of the deceased’s assets according to their will or state laws if there is no will. One common question during this process is whether a home in Massachusetts can be sold while it’s in probate.

The answer is yes, but there are specific steps and considerations to remember.

Understanding Probate

Probate is initiated to ensure the deceased’s debts are paid and their assets are distributed to the rightful heirs or beneficiaries. A probate court oversees this process, and it can be time-consuming, often lasting several months to a year or more, depending on the complexity of the estate.

Selling a Home in Probate

1. Appointment of a Personal Representative

The first step in selling a home in probate is appointing a personal representative (also known as an executor or administrator) by the probate court. This individual manages the estate, including selling any real estate.

2. Obtaining a License to Sell

In Massachusetts, the personal representative may need to obtain a “license to sell” from the probate court before proceeding with the property sale. This involves filing a petition with the court and providing details about the property and the proposed sale.

3. Appraisal of the Property

An appraisal of the property is typically required to determine its fair market value. This ensures that the home is sold appropriately, protecting the interests of the heirs or beneficiaries.

4. Listing and Marketing the Property

Once the necessary approvals are obtained, the personal representative can list the property for sale independently or through a real estate agent. The property should be marketed to reach potential buyers, just as it would be in a traditional sale.

5. Accepting an Offer

When an offer is received, the personal representative has the authority to accept it on behalf of the estate. However, court approval may sometimes be required before the sale can be finalized.

6. Closing the Sale

The closing process for a probate sale is similar to that of a traditional sale, involving the transfer of the title and the distribution of funds. The proceeds from the sale are used to pay off any outstanding debts or liens against the property, with the remaining funds distributed to the beneficiaries according to the will or state laws.

Considerations for Selling a Home in Probate

  • Transparency: It’s essential to be transparent about the property being sold through probate. Potential buyers should be aware of any additional steps or delays.
  • Court Approval: Depending on the specifics of the estate, court approval may be required at various stages of the sale process. This can add time to the transaction, so factoring this into the timeline is essential.
  • Condition of the Property: The property’s condition can impact its saleability. In some cases, it may be necessary to make repairs or improvements before listing the property.
  • Emotional Considerations: Selling a home in probate can be emotionally challenging, mainly if the property belonged to a loved one. It’s essential to approach the process with sensitivity and respect for the feelings of all involved.


Selling a home in Massachusetts while it’s in probate is possible, but it requires careful navigation of legal and procedural steps. By understanding the requirements and working with professionals experienced in probate sales, personal representatives can successfully manage the sale of a property and fulfill their duties to the estate and its beneficiaries.

Massachusetts has a lot of helpful info on probate and wills

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Elie Deglaoui - Author


Elie Deglaoui

Elie is our office admin who handles all our day-to-day tasks and makes sure we always stay on track. He brings his love of music and sports into the office everyday to always liven up the environment. His outgoing personality makes it easy and fun for him to talk to homeowners, homebuyers, and everyone in between.

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