Before I can answer your question, we need to make sure we have a clear definition of “probate” and “before”. When dealing with matters of the law, details matter.
Probate is a formal process whereby a Will is authenticated — if one is left — and an executor or personal representative is appointed to handle the assets and estate of a loved one.
To open probate, generally a petition gets filed. The exact requirements will vary based on your state. In Michigan, probate must go through the Probate County Court in which the deceased resided at the time of their death.
There are a variety of probate processes, so it’s best to seek legal counsel to find your exact needs. For example, the probate process is formal or informal or you can be operating under interstate law or intestate law.
Despite all of these different processes, one definition stays fairly consistent: Before.
Generally, most people who wonder if they can sell the house before probate are wondering if they can sell the home before probate is opened and a petition is filed.
The answer is no, unless the home is excluded from an estate or passed on in a way that avoids probate. Otherwise, you MUST follow the rules and process of the probate process you’re in.
So, even if you already know what the Will says, you cannot sell the house for cash until probate has been opened, a Will has been authenticated, and an executor or personal representative is appointed by the courts.
Does it suck? Yes. Especially if you wait a long time to get authority to sell the home for cash. This means the estate has to continue to pay property taxes, mortgages, and other expenses — eating away at your estate proceeds — before you can sell the home.
The ONLY way to sell a house for cash before probate is to make sure that the home isn’t included in the estate for probate purposes.