How to Avoid Probate

“Just get it done.” “Why waste money on these damn lawyers?” “We need to move in – hurry up already!”

When people want to buy a new home, they really do want to get all the formalities out of the way, get the key, and move in.

The problem is, your seller may not really own everything you need to buy. Sometimes, the seller may offer to buy your title insurance for you. That’s great. But you have to read that “title binder” carefully’. There are going to be exceptions – stuff that the insurance company isn’t going to be responsible for. These can be tricky, and even a fat lawyer is going to be worth his weight in silver dollars.

The single most elective advice I’ve ever given to a client was when I read through all the exceptions to the title insurance binder the seller had bought for my client. (The seller was crafty old gent who’d been in business for a long time, and was the executor of his mother’s estate.) A Probate Deed is a lot like a Quit Claim Deed (“Here – you’re getting whatever I got. Give me the money and we’re done – no comebacks later”). There are a lot of things a buyer needs to look out for, and the words can get tricky.

My client was convinced that since he was “the named insured” on the policy, he didn’t need to listen to me when I told him there were some problems he was going to get stuck with. Since he didn’t want to listen to me, I asked him the date, time, and place for the closing. “What do you care?” he asked. “I’m not paying you to be there.” I told him it was so I could break his wrists and drag him out of the building before he signed anything. Then he started to listen.