Probate Auctions on E-bay

Whenever a person dies and leaves behind debt creditors, the administrator or executor of that person’s estate faces certain challenges in quickly selling real and personal property in order to satisfy creditors. The probate process is long and drawn out, and every shortcut available should be sought in order to shorten the amount of time that property is tied up in the process. Recently, with the great success of E-bay, people have discovered a quick and efficient way to unload property in order to satisfy debts. Not only has E-bay made the general premise of auctioning easier, it has also made it more understandable and desirable to the masses. It is the jurisdiction’s Probate Court’s responsibility to ensure all probate assets are collected, maintained, and distributed among the decedent’s heirs, beneficiaries, and/or creditors in accordance with the will of the decedent as expressed through that person’s testamentary will and the laws of that jurisdiction. This process is known as the administration of a decedent’s estate, and it can cause great difficulties to even the most experienced executor. Once the person dies, the executor or administrator must first make an accounting to the Probate Court to determine the value of decedent’s estate. Second, they must seek to pay any taxes or debts owed. Only after the debts and taxes are paid, do the decedent’s heirs or beneficiaries get any of the probate property. As the probate process can often take more than a year, using E-bay, or other comparable online services can assist in satisfying the creditors and debts owed by the estate. However, it should be pointed out that under Massachusetts law, creditors do have one-year to make any claims against the estate.

Even a quick browse through E-bay listed properties presents many real properties for sale which are currently in probate. Utilizing E-bay and other online auction tools can allow a person to achieve the greatest value for the estate, since auctions can be held across the country, creating a true marketplace for the decedent’s property. Online auction sites allow for the administrator or executor to realize a more accurate value for what is being sold. This tool can actually demonstrate that the executor has fulfilled his or her fiduciary duties. However, when selling real probate property over an online auction site, the administrator of the estate should first seek court approval. While auctioning off real property from a probate estate will help move the process along, it might not have a substantial effect on the overall speed of the probate process itself, though it can be of assistance in clearing up creditors and determining priority of payment. The true value of sites such as E-bay lies in their ability to allow the seller to achieve the greatest amount for the property as possible. While only hundreds might attend an auction in person, E-bay allows thousands of people to participate in the auction, all the while driving the price up and leaving more money to the estate.

The valuable advocate must have a clear understanding of the best ways in which to assist their clients or their client’s estate in obtaining the best value for any property in probate. Utilizing newer technologies in order to gain value or speed the hassles of probate can create substantial good will in the eyes of the client or their estate. The role of the effective attorney is to reduce problems and headaches and to make life easier for clients. If an attorney can also reduce costs, increase value and speed along the probate process, he or she just might have found lifelong clients. Additionally, having a clear understanding of available technologies can help to assist executors of estates in fulfilling their fiduciary duties of successfully executing the intent of the decedent.

This article was drafted by Nicholas Delaunt for the Law Firm of Goldstein and Clegg, LLC. This article is not intended as legal advice in any way, and if you wish to liquidate an estate through eBay, you should contact an Estate Planning or Probate lawyer.

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