The Probate Process for a House in Richmond, VA – How to Avoid Getting Scammed

probate process for a house inProbate is the process of managing a deceased person’s estate. We’ve all heard the horror stories about how long and stressful the probate process can be, and we tend to avoid or wait to get started.

The truth, however, is that when done correctly, probate in Richmond VA (or Chesterfield, Henrico etc) can be done in as little as four steps. On the other hand, both the fear and the simplicity of probate often lead to some probate scams. Let’s look at some of them:

The Probate Process for a House in Richmond, VA – How to Avoid Getting Scammed

Probate Process for a House in Richmond, VA

Without the proper form of a legal Trust, probate typically follows a person’s death. What is probate? Probate is the legal process whereby the debts of the deceased are paid and the deceased’s assets (which are held solely in the name of the deceased and not otherwise distributed) are transferred to the beneficiaries and heirs.

Typically, the probate process follows four steps.

  1. The first step is to ask the probate court to accept the will and appoint an executor or, in the absence of a will, an estate administrator. A consultation date is set, and notice of the hearing is distributed locally.
  2. Subsequent to being named by the court, the decedent’s personal delegate notifies to all lenders, and takes stock of what is owned by the estate.
  3. The personal representative takes money from the estate to pay all bills, debts, and taxes after determining which claims are legitimate. At times, this includes selling assets to meet commitments.
  4. Assets (legal title to a house, for instance) are disbursed according to the decedent’s wishes expressed in the will or, in case there is no will, according to the state’s intestate succession laws.

And that’s it for the probate process for a house in Richmond or surrounding counties and for the entire estate as well. Just be wary about any scams that may pop up along the way.

Common Probate Scams

These are some new twists on old scams that owe their re-birth (and effectiveness) chiefly to the Internet and email. They always, however, target the vulnerable.

  1. Probate Avoidance Scam – The perpetrators of this scam usually target the elderly. It involves persuading victims to buy fraudulent products that purport to help them avoid probate, for example, a very expensive living trust kit. Once the scammers have the money in their hands, they either never deliver or provide a product that is actually legally useless.
  2. Inheritance/Estate Tax Scam – Some states still levy an inheritance or estate tax. Using a trusted person’s or organization’s name, scammers contact potential executors/personal representatives informing them that they stand to inherit a bunch of money. The only catch is that – because in these states the tax must be paid before probate can go forward – the victims must first send the scammers an inflated tax.
  3. Fraudulent Listings Scam – This one owes its effectiveness to the popularity of sites like Craigslist for home shoppers, especially renters, and applies particularly to the probate process for a house in Richmond. Scammers research the property of recently deceased individuals and advertise it for rent. Then, when the scammers collect the deposit and first month’s rent, they disappear, leaving the people engaged in probate to deal with the upset victim.

If you’re facing probate, especially the probate process for a house in Richmond, it’s probably not as ominous and frightening as it first seems. Knowing what it involves and being aware of the common probate scams are good first steps – but there’s more to consider.

If you’d like to learn more about probate and how to get through it smoothly, contact us by phone at (804) 728-0400 or fill our simple form.

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