Similar to divorce leads, focusing on generating probate real estate leads can be smart if done strategically, focusing on generating referral leads via B2B approaches.

Sure, it can also be done directly with the methods you may have found already on other websites and social media (e.g., contact data scraping tools). 

Still, you may be in for a more bumpy ride in that case.

This article will analyze the smart way of generating real estate probate leads and cover…

  • What real estate probate means
  • What estate planning is, and how it avoids real estate probates
  • What you should know about the probate real estate niche before thinking of generating leads (6 Statistics)
  • How probate real estate works and how it is handled
  • How to generate (find) probate real estate leads as a realtor and/or investor
  • Three real estate probate training providers you may want to consider to become a specialist


What Does Real Estate Probate Mean?

In short real estate, probate just means that a judge has a say on who will get the asset (e.g., the house, property, etc.) next.

Formally speaking, it’s the orderly administration of a person’s estate after they have passed away.

But why would a judge get a say on that in the first place?

It’s because property goes through a probate process. 

Since the person who is now in the Eternal Hunting Grounds didn’t proactively set up an estate plan or trust.

A trust is needed in most states to avoid probate. (source)

Now, you may wonder whether a will wouldn’t be enough to avoid probate with a judge involved.

Just a will won’t prevent the property from going through probate. 

However, it guides the judge as to who will get the property.

Because of the above, it’s a good idea to check that everything is in order before you list it as a realtor or work with a probate property as an investor.

If you don’t, you may run into hefty delays because alleged heirs/new owners didn’t know they had to follow specific steps to be able to sell the property.


What Is Estate Planning, and How it Avoids Real Estate Probates?

A trust is needed in most states to avoid probate, which is where estate planning comes in.

Estate planning is similar to programming, as it covers what happens with all your property after you pass away.

But it is not limited only to the condition of your passing away.

It can also include and organize other scenarios before you “check out,” such as:

  • Becoming incapacitated
  • Transfers of a business at retirement
  • Arrangements for disability income
  • Naming guardians for your minor children


And programming is a bit like writing a receipt to cook a nice meal, including different conditional expressions, such as if this, then do that.

So when you make an estate plan, you plan in advance and for the beneficiary designations “program” things like:

“If Brad is still alive, he gets 20% of my house, but only if he has paid back the Las Vegas gamble debt to aunt Ana at the full moon on Friday the 13th, while a black cat needs to be assisting (talk about driving heirs crazy).

The house can only get listed if Ana and Brad sign the listing contract together. Otherwise, it will be donated to the National Council on Problem Gambling.”

The whole “program” runs on the “Trust- device” to stay in computer terms.

So the trust is basically the organizational structure with appointed representatives that ensure the “program” (the estate plan) is carried out.

Who does estate planning? Most probate attorneys also do estate planning.

For lead generation purposes, it’s often people that are either downsizing or a new family that needs more rooms when they do estate planning.



What You Should Know About the Probate Real Estate Niche Before Thinking of Generating Leads (6 Statistics)

Coming closer to the best ways of generating probate real estate leads for your preparation, you may also want to consider the general situation of probates. So let’s look at some statistics.

  • Americans have a will in 50 to 60% of the cases. (source)
  • The trend is declining in terms of Americans having a will. While in 2005, about 51% had a will, and in 2016 it was only 44%. (source)
  • A probate process can cost up to 10% of an estate. (source)
  • The chances of a family conflict increase without an estate plan since 35% of American adults say they have had this experience. (source)
  • Estate planning is considered a confusing topic by 74% of American adults. (source) It’s an excellent opportunity for you to make it less complicated via content marketing.
  • According to anecdotal evidence from a probate attorney in one of the videos in the lower section of this article, about 80% of the time, real estate needs to be sold when it comes to probates.

So, what can we make of the statistics regarding lead generation?

The information is not directly helpful for lead generation.

However, it can help with persuasion.

It helps to better understand the emotional situation of people you want to sell to, including potential pains.

So, from the statistics above, we can learn that probate real estate leads still have a future since Americans having a will has been declining.

Besides the apparent loss of a loved one, potential heirs may also experience additional pain regarding the probate process, which can cost up to 10% of an estate.

And you may get yourself in the middle of a family conflict situation.

You may also want to consider asking the following questions before getting into generating probate real estate leads:

  • Since when was the estate filed, and where?
  • Was it filed in the county where it is located or not?
  • Did the owner die without a will? (remember, the judge is still involved when a will exists)
  • Are all the heirs living, over 18, competent, married, and if married, spouses competent? (everybody’s heirs and their spouses have to sign at the closing to be able to convey clear title to the property)
  • Was the estate opened at all? If not, the heirs might not have the legal authority to sell.

From the above, you could learn that there is a certain risk for directly generated probate leads (e.g., data scraping platforms, look-up yourself on county websites, etc.).

It may result in not having the legal authority to sell, or they may have inherited it along with other people interested in the property.

It also means a higher risk for lower-quality leads.

The attorney in the below video gives a good overview of this situation:


How Does Probate Real Estate Work and How Is It Handled

You may have realized that probate real estate (leads) can be more complex than other real estate niches.

It can be time-consuming and complicated, and for the same reason, often, an attorney is required.

According to my research and the attorney from this video, the process usually works like this.

During a probate process, an attorney runs into a piece of real estate, sometimes multiple, that requires a legal title to be transferred.

For other assets, there may be a bit more wiggle room in how it is transferred, but not in the case of real estate.

Here the court needs to get involved, and a realtor needs to get rid of the property.

Also, the property can’t be sold on day one when someone passes away. 

Instead, you need to wait until the middle of the process.

And it can be months before the judge gives the green light.

You, as a realtor, will also need letters of authority.

These letters allow you to sell the property and sign the title work and/or other things that need to be signed to sell the property.

Depending on the county, on whether someone contests and other issues, the judge might need to approve the sale of the property.

So you, as a real estate professional, will need to be good in terms of expectation management of potential buyers regarding time frames.

Potential delays may also be an issue for real estate investors.

This video is from an experienced probate investor and realtor.

I heard in it that you may make a down payment of $10,000 on probate property in California and may have to wait a year until the deal can be closed.


How to Generate (Find) Probate Real Estate Leads As a Realtor and/or Investor

How you generate (find) probate real estate leads as a realtor or investor is similar to divorce leads (you can read my article here).

Typically, the leads (easy to forget that’s real people sometimes) you are targeting pass through a mix of strong emotions and often conflicting feelings.

So when interacting with them, you may not come across as persuasive when you are not the empathic type. (that’s actually a general sales situation disadvantage).

Similar to the divorce real estate niche, you do not only sell your services to seller prospects but when you aim for referral leads, even more so to probate attorneys.

The lead generation strategy can go the B2B (targeting probate attorneys) and/or the B2C route (targeting potential heirs directly).


Going the B2B Lead Generation Route for Probates, and Why It’s Likely Better

You get into referral marketing when you go the B2B lead generation route for probate properties.

So you will target attorneys specialized in probates and/or estate planning.

By doing that, you slightly piggyback on their reputation in the probate and estate planning market.

The best way to approach them is to remember the rules for referral marketing I discussed in my article “How to Crush it with Real Estate Referrals for More Profits.”

You can target those potential referral partners via all the major types of lead generation and marketing methods, such as a paid and unpaid outbound, a paid and unpaid inbound approach, your database, and referral partners.

However, to follow the rules of referral marketing, you must be a value provider to potential referral partners you want to acquire.

And which lead generation approach is best suited for that? It’s paid and unpaid inbound lead generation.

Ideally, it’s a combination of inbound and outbound marketing. How so?

The inbound approach, such as content marketing via different communication channels (webinars, whitepapers, articles on your blog, videos, etc.), can establish you as an expert on the probate topic in your neighborhood.

After doing this for a while, you are better positioned to use an outbound approach (e.g., cold calls, personal drop-byes, etc.) to contact the potential attorneys with a higher success rate.

They may have already come across you via the content you have provided.

In contrast, a real estate professional without inbound marketing will have a weaker position when doing just outbound marketing to get probate attorneys as referral partners.

Five Practical Ideas for the B2B Referral Approach:

  • Posting probate content on social media such as LinkedIn and Facebook for a selected group of probate attorneys you added as contacts and segmented before.
  • You can often get probate attorneys’ email addresses for direct outreach via the state’s bar association membership directory. If not, you can do direct LinkedIn outreach.
  • By hiring probate attorneys for what they do, you can circumvent gatekeepers.
  • Cold-call them and say, “I am a probate-specialized realtor/investor, and maybe we can talk about how I could make your job easier.”
  • Personal visits at the offices with goodies (e.g., cookies) for gatekeepers and paralegals

I also researched the probate attorney’s perspective, including problems, pain points, and wants on this business to give you a little persuasive edge regarding approaching them.

I found two inspiring videos during my research, which I’ll attach at the end of this section.


The summarized probate attorneys’ pain points and needs:

  • Probate attorneys are not concerned with who gets a commission or what profit from a deal.
  • Real estate professionals (agents and investors) knowledgeable in the probate process can take work off the attorney’s plate when they help sell the house.
  • A huge pain point for probate attorneys is to get rid of the properties in question.
  • Because of the last point, they look for real estate professionals that can offer the most options to sell a property (realtors, also being investors with knowledge in creative real estate financing likely have an advantage).
  • Because of over-promises from certain realtors regarding the sales prices and the risk of causing an expired listing situation, some prefer to recommend their clients to take a wholesale deal instead of listing the property retail (again, they want to get rid of the property fast).
  • Probate attorneys want to be kept in the loop concerning the sale of the property.
  • Attorneys aren’t allowed to solicit. So, you can provide additional value when promoting their services indirectly (e.g., putting a probate attorney as a trusted partner on your website, doing content marketing together, and organizing and promoting educational events about estate planning with them as your guests).

I also found some contradicting or conflicting information about real estate professionals contacting probate attorneys.

In the videos below, one of the probate attorneys mentions that almost no realtors are contacting him for a partnership.

It contradicts the second video where the attorney mentions that he gets about four weekly calls from real estate professionals.

The two videos…

Another advantage of using the referral B2B approach via probate attorneys is they often also do estate planning.

People doing that are about to downsize, or a new family needs more rooms.

So there are also some opportunities for real estate professionals to get additional seller and buyer leads referred.


The More Time-Consuming Direct Approach for Probate Leads (B2C)

You can theoretically use all lead generation methods to directly target probate leads.

However, the conversion rates and lead quality will depend strongly on when the prospect will see your marketing message in the probate process and how well you can precisely target them.

Sure, you may run a paid outbound campaign via Facebook ads (my article) or Google Search Ads (also my article).

But chances are, they may already be working with a probate attorney who has a better picture of the situation.

This probate attorney may not have referred you to this same probate lead you now got as a direct lead via your campaign because the probate situation isn’t clear yet or the timing is not the best.

So working with a probate attorney helps you filter out low-quality leads. You may get more with a direct approach.

But what about pulling probate contact information and prospecting them directly via an unpaid DIY outbound way?

Regarding targeting, this may be a better direct approach.

If you get the correct email addresses, you could use them even for a custom audience in Facebook Ads.

However, the video below shows how time-consuming gathering proper contact data can be.

As you can see in the video, it is confusing and easier said than done.

Without contact scraping tools, you will need to pull probate contact information directly from county websites, the clerk of the courts, and the county’s property appraiser website, and then consolidate and organize this information, for example, via Google Sheets.

Additionally, you may need to cross-check the contact information via “true people search. “

Or, to speed up the process, you may use probate contact information online tools (data scraping tools) such as PropelioPropstreamUSProbateLeadsSuccessordataAlltheleads, and Probate Data.

These tools are no guarantee that you will get exclusive leads, and secondly, someone on the list doesn’t necessarily mean they are the owners.

The main issue with the direct approach is that the lead quality will likely be lower compared to the indirect referral approach.

Your Database, Another Low-Hanging Fruit for Probate Leads…Provided You Did This One Thing Before

Like the divorce leads I covered in this article, you could also get probate leads from your existing database.

However, this may only work if you have a nurtured database. So you have been providing helpful content regularly up to now.

At first glance, it can sound as if you can get probate leads in the short run by promoting what you do to your database.

But building a database in the first place is something you do in the mid-and long-run.

So, unfortunately, everything falls back again on inbound lead generation methods (paid and/or unpaid) done via content in the probate niche to build and nurture your database.

We can conclude that the low-hanging fruit for probate leads is using B2B lead generation methods to get referrals.

As you can read in my article about referral marketing, it will result in less expensive lead generation and likely higher quality leads.

The same approach can also benefit you concerning the direct generation of real estate probate leads because you will no longer need to get the timing right.


Since it’s inbound marketing and you can establish yourself as an expert in this space with content marketing, the leads come to you more often at the right timing (they know best when it’s the right time) than when you go the outbound way.

content marketing strategy for probate leads directly (B2C) or indirectly (B2B) can involve educational content around estate planning in your area.

It would be one step earlier in the customer journey, and you might not only be considered as the realtor or investor of choice for probate real estate but also for real estate listings that don’t even need to go through the probate process.

A content marketing strategy would attract both probate attorneys and clients directly.

In the context of real estate content marketing (inbound lead generation methods), you may also want to read my articles “254 Real Estate Content Ideas & Samples [How-To Included]“and “Real Estate Content Marketing – Is it Low Cost?“.

Ideally, the content you create for that is high-quality evergreen content (e.g., articles on your real estate website).

This content you can then repurpose or recycle on different social media platforms (e.g., Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.) in suitable formats.

Everything inbound marketing is mostly a long game.

The shorter game is running outbound campaigns and prospecting via cold calls to the right probate attorneys.



3 Real Estate Probate Training Providers to Become a Specialist

There are no statewide recognized real estate probate certificates or something similar.

Continuing education and specialization could show potential partners (probate attorneys) that you did your homework.

This niche seems less developed than the divorce real estate niche I covered in this article.

Nevertheless, I found three real estate probate training providers you may want to consider for continued education.

I want to leave you with them below, which ends this article. 

This article has been reviewed by our editorial team. It has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policy.

Tobias Schnellbacher