Sell Your Mother’s House Without Probate in New York?

When a person dies, there’s a process that follows to determine the heir to their property. This depends on whether there are living relatives and, if so, the relationship they had. 

If the deceased had a will, it must be filed in a Surrogate Court and approved (admitted) for probation.

Probation is the legal process of approving the will, indicating how to distribute the deceased’s assets, and settle their liabilities. 

Now you might be wondering, “Can I sell my mother’s house without probate in New York?” Read on to know more about probate and whether you can sell your mother’s house without it.  

What is probate and how it works

How probate works in New York

Once a person passes away, their wealth or estate must be managed and distributed as per their will. 

While this may not necessarily mean you have to wait until you and your relatives are done with grieving, everything has to be done according to the law and follow the established timelines.

First, you have to bring the property before the court for the probate process to begin. 

Of course, New York has laws that guide the probate process. Therefore, as a key party in this process, you need to be fully aware of these statutes before undertaking a probate sale

Everything has to happen per these state probate laws for the transfer of the property to occur. Therefore, probation is a requirement for estates in New York.

How long does probate take in New York?

Probate involves both small and large estates. 

Interestingly, even the smallest of these take time before everything is settled. Therefore, you need to be patient as it may take you up to six months before everything is distributed and the probate is closed.

In fact, give it one year because this is what it typically takes to complete probate for most estates. If delays occur, expect the process to take even longer. 

For example, disputes may arise with one heir contesting the will or disputes arising from creditors. Therefore, be ready to deal with issues as they arise.

Settling an estate

It’s worth noting that estates valued at less than $50,000 don’t have to go through probate. In this case, you might opt for small estate administration, otherwise known as a voluntary administration proceeding. This process is quicker as the court does not need to oversee every step of the process.

When settling an estate in New York, you must adhere to the New York State laws. These govern the forms you must use and the timelines you must meet. 

The probate process involves the following main steps:

  • Filing the death certificate, original will, and a petition for probate. You have to do this with the court where the deceased person lived. To ensure you complete the process speedily, file probate as soon as possible.
  • The court appoints an executor who acts on behalf of the estate. The personal representative is responsible for providing documents that confirm you have the authority to initiate the probate process.
  • The executor notifies creditors and heirs of probate. This gives the creditors a chance to submit whichever claims they might have against the estate.
  • The executor takes an inventory of the descendant’s assets. They must secure it until the probation process is complete.
  • The final tax return and any other tax the estate owes are filed. 
  • Lastly, the estate is distributed. Additionally, the remaining assets are shared as per the will. If there are none, the state laws apply.

The best way to approach the probate process in the Surrogate Court is to hire a probate attorney to help and guide you through the process. This is not challenging as there’s a court in every county.

Seeking a probate lawyer for help

Considering how long, stressful, time-consuming, and expensive the probate process is, seeking help from a probate attorney is always recommended. In any case, going through all these hassles after you’ve just lost a loved one can be overwhelming. 

A probate lawyer is a state-licensed attorney who can help an estate’s beneficiaries or executor navigate through the probate as they work towards settling the estate. 

The services a probate lawyer provides are vital. They include the following: 

  • Searching for and inventorying all the assets of the estate.
  • Analyzing and paying all the debts the estate owes to creditors.
  • Helping with tax payments and filing the necessary documents.
  • Assisting in the distribution and settlement of the estate.
  • Collecting the deceased’s life insurance proceeds.
  • Ordering property appraisals for real estate.
  • Preparing and filing all the necessary court documents and forms.
  • Helping with opening and managing the property’s checking account.
  • Retitling assets so that they appear with the beneficiaries’ names.

As you can see, apart from other expenses such as closing costs when selling a house, paying for a probate lawyer is another essential spend. 

How much you pay for a probate lawyer varies from one state to another. In some states, they charge a flat fee or hourly rate, while in others, it depends on the size of the estate.

After analyzing the complexity of the process and deciding to seek the services of a probate lawyer, the following tips will come in handy in helping you get the best lawyer to represent you:

  • Go for an experienced probate attorney who has been in practice for several years. Chances are, they’ll help you navigate the process efficiently and fast.
  • Hire a lawyer who is familiar with New York probate laws and statutes. Failure to seek an attorney who understands your state and estate laws may cost you figuratively and literally.
  • Always seek a probate attorney who has practiced before the court your case is scheduled. Courts have small variations in the way they handle the probate process. Having a lawyer fully aware of how a judge operates can be a big boost.
  • Go for a lawyer who knows the timelines and can estimate how long it will take to settle the estate.
  • Ask the lawyer whether they’ve handled cases similar to yours before, and especially if the case is a complicated one. It’s easier to deal with a probate attorney who has experience with cases like yours.
  • Consider the attorney’s fees. Have an understanding before hiring the lawyer so that everything is clear on how to pay them. Is it a flat rate, hourly, or a percentage depending on the estate size? 

When does probate begin?

If necessary, start the probate process immediately after losing your mother. 

If your loved one had a will in place, the probate process is all about validating it. On the other hand, if they had no will or any other house plan in place, it’s said that they died intestate. However, the estate still must go through probate.

Probate begins once you file a petition for probate and present the original will and death certificate at the deceased person’s county Surrogate Court. Then, the process takes approximately six months to one year to make the settlement. 

However, where other hurdles emerge, expect to take even longer in court.

Can you sell before probation?

Whether or not you can sell before probation depends on the house’s title. 

If the deceased had created a revocable living trust that allowed her to hold the house with all its assets, you could receive the estate without probate. In this case, you must be the beneficiary of the trust. Subsequently, you can sell the house.

This includes if the house is owned jointly. It’s called joint tenancy. In this case, if there are surviving owners, they entirely own the house. And if you’re the estate beneficiary, your mother’s ownership is transferred to you upon her death without going through the probate process.

That means you have the right to sell the house before probate. You can contact companies that buy houses New York residents want to see. But if the house is titled solely in the deceased’s name or a tenancy in common, then you cannot sell it before probate begins.

house in for sale before probate begins

How to sell a house before probation begins

If it’s allowed to sell your mother’s house before probation begins (as stated in the cases above), you need to follow the due process when making the sale. The process involves the following steps:

  1. Property appraisal: This process (of having the house appraised) helps determine the house’s fair market value to ensure you don’t undersell it. It’s advisable to have a professional appraisal handle this process for the best results.
  2. List the house for sale: The next step is to list the house for sale on the market. A real estate agent can be of great help in making the sale quicker. And if you live in Queens and are wondering, “Who can buy my house in Queens?” Leave the Key Homebuyers are a perfect solution.
  3. Consider the available offers: After listing the house with an initial asking price, interested buyers will make their offers. Consider all the offers until you reach those you consider acceptable.
  4. Accept an offer: An acceptable offer is one within the fair market value. If you get one, accept it and finalize the deal.
  5. Keep all your records: It’s imperative to document everything and record the sale. Keep copies of all documents, agreements, and contracts. 
  6. Sell the house: One way to do that is through cash home buyers Brooklyn residents trust, after which you can collect the proceeds into your savings account. If the estate had liabilities, use this money to pay creditors.


The probate process in NY takes place in Surrogate Courts and works under the guidance of state statutes. To make the process easy, consider hiring a probate lawyer. They will help from the first step to the last. It’s also advisable to begin the probate process as soon as possible after your loved one passes away so that it doesn’t take so long. 

If you own the house jointly, you can go ahead and sell it before the probate process begins. Also, if your mother was running it as a trust with you as the beneficiary, you can sell it before the process begins, following the due process.

Can you sell your mother's house without probate in NY?