Probate---Anyone Got any advice?

I’m thinking about working the probate angle. Is anyone doing this with any success? What are you doing that is most successful.

I’ve been going to the courthouse and pulling 30-40 files a day. I find the cases that have real estate and I copy all the needed info. I’ve then sent out letters offering to purchase property to the executor and heirs.

So far I’ve sent out 50 leters in the past 30 days with no responses.

What are you probate guys doing different?

Have you done any follow-up with them yet? Were you able to get any phone numbers of the PR’s? When did the homeowners pass away? Probate may be a little tricky. They still may be in mourning and not ready to deal with anyone just yet. Who did you send the letters to? The decedent’s address or the PR’s? What did your letter state and how was it stated? Was the letter a “Granny letter?” How much time has passed since the letters went out? How much time has passed since the PR filed probate from when the decedent passed away? Is it possible that someone else has already contacted them? Are the PR’s local or out-of-state? If local, maybe you can visit them in person.

Sorry about all the questions, but it will give us a better idea of what type of situation you are in.


Answers to the questions

I have not done any follow up. I did not get phone numbers.

The homeowners passed away generally November -early January

I sent the letters to the Pr and listed heirs. To their listed addresses

I used a letter basically from Gary DiGrazia’s probate book

I don’t know what a “granny letter” is.

Letters went out 2-3 weeks ago

The PR filed these probates in January and early February 2006

Yes, it’s always possible other people are contacting them.

PR’s are both local and out of state

Don’t give up just yet. The key to it is follow-up, follow-up, follow-up. Space out your follow-ups, though as not to pester them too much. Your biggest profit potential will be in the outta-staters as they will not want to travel too much to show a house. Just make sure that these PR’s have their Letters of Testamentary first before you deal with them. Otherwise, they are wasting your time.

As far as the letters are concerned, give it time. It hasn’t been too long yet. A “Granny Letter” is what you would call a letter that you might receive from your Grandmother. In other words, hand-write out everything. Make the envelopes cheap and see-through. Make it as though you would read it if it were sent to you. Would you read something professionally printed, or would you be more apt to read something that someone hand-wrote to you? As far as what to say, it should say something about asking them if they are interested in selling the property they are responsible for. Tell them you can close fast and for cash. Make certain that you remind the PR’s exactly what they are responsible for, how big that list is, what finances they are also responsible for, and how you can help them out. J.G. Banks Institute has LOTS on this subject and what techniques to use with them.

Good luck.


What is a “letter of Testamentary?”

Letters of Testamentary (often reffered to as Letters of Administration or Supervised Letter to name a few) is the legal paperwork that the Court will give to the PR (Personal Representative or Executor of the Estate) that will allow them to have the legal right to deal on the behalf of the deceased.


I’m quite sure that direct mail industry pros will tell you that they have a single-digit success rates even when the mailings are well targeted. And I really do not believe that PRs are worthwhile targets.

The JGBanks method is almost exactly equivalent to going to the Recorder’s office to dig through the daily NOTS pile. I suggest that you don’t waste time on that method, as such, unless you’re in a buyer’s market, and maybe not even then. The system can work, but is inherently low-yield. Been there, tried that, got the certificate to prove it.

It’s a giant hassle for the PR. What Jim Banks doesn’t tell you is that most people open probate only after they already have a buyer. Even if it’s themselves, which it often is. (Why else would they go through all the effort, responsibility and paperwork?) When a probate atty’s office volunteered this right out of the blue–that “almost all” their clients have buyers before they even TRY to become PR–I realized that it tallied exactly with what I’d been finding in my calls to actual PRs.

Steee-rike one and a half.

Further, PRs are very rarely on the hook for any loans or liens on the decedent’s property, aren’t in financial hardship any more than the average random person, generally don’t live there, and thus aren’t under any duress to sell cheap. While it was refreshing to talk to people whose emotional state and personal standards of conduct averages much higher than that of most foreclosees, that’s part of the problem with the Banks system. These guys are the responsible ones. They usually have the ability to bring loans current, and with that, the luxury of holding out for FMV. So that’s what they do. And why shouldn’t they? It’s their inheritance. They may even be pressured by the other heirs to sell as high as possible. Certainly the overwhelming majority are not the kind of “motivated sellers” most of us here look for. They tend to not need us.

Steee-rike another one and a half and Banks is outta here.

Nonetheless, I’m not sorry I plunked down the 2 grand for the Banks seminar. Because I think the knowledge gained can be very useful. I just plan to return to probate someday and work it in a different way than the chase-foreclosures-style model that Banks talks about.

Two different ways, actually.

Consider: one problem is that the PRs already have buyers. The other problem is that PRs tend not to be under duress.

How do you work with that? A couple subtle (but simple) things dawned on me SINCE I abandoned probate. Yeah, I’d be nothing without my great sense of timing. But right now I’m scalp-deep working my current angles, especially the one where I recruit birddogs here in Phoenix who can make themselves $500 on each lead they bring me that I close on, so be sure to contact me right away if you’re interested .

I’m sorry to be cryptic, but I don’t want to say more than that publicly. I try to be helpful when I think I can (being as I’m here to leech things in return), but it behooves me to remember to shut up once in a while.

If you guys, GoldenKnight and Fireman18, are interested in some slight variations on the usual probate system and want to discuss them privately with me, I’d love to see you kick the tires and test drive them.

So long as you keep me updated on what happens.


Very interesting take. You only paid 2K??? I paid 4!!! >:( My class’s biggest concern was market saturation. They do their seminars quarterly in Vegas and have been there 3x previously as far as I know. I must say that I was pretty dissappointed with the main workbook too. Just pics of their slides - nothing “how to”, unless you are a great note-taker or have an even better memory!

If what you say is true (and I have no reason to doubt you :)) then I cannot help but wonder how these PR’s are able to pay all of the decedent’s monthly bills, as well as their own not to mention covering attorney fees and funeral expenses, while they are going thru the Probate process. When our instructors (none of whom I thought were very personable or even likeable) told us what their returns were doing in direct mail, I almost fell out of my chair laughing. SO LOW! At least Vena Jones-Cox (The Real Estate Goddess) has higher returns (so she says) because she tweaked her letter as to sounding as though she actually cared about the position that her PR’s were in. J.G. Bank’s Instructor’s letters were as cold as the decedents they were talking about-all business. No condolences or nuthin. And they didn’t spend much time going thru sources or ways to contact the PR’s by phone either. Overall, a pretty disappointing experience. The only exception is the other GREAT materials they give us (outside of the main workbook) for forms, hard money lenders, etc. Got to also give Kudos to the year’s worth of live customer service too. At least if we get stuck and need additional details (LOTS that they didn’t cover in training) we always have them to bail us out. At least they turned me onto this site too - WAAAAY more helpful than them. Too bad all of their extras were also MUCH too costly too. I would REALLY like to get my hand on their Probate Professional Package. If not to work Probate, then to work other angles.

As far as Bird-Dogging is concerned, it DOES help to do shameful plugs. :wink: I live in Kingman and have pre-existing experience being a Bird Doggy. Did it in Vegas, PHX, and Tucson. But as I recall, I saw another post from you that mentioned you paid 1K. Surely something must be said for pre-esisting experience? Still can’t decide if I want to continue Bird-Dogging to build up a little capital or jump right into Wholesaling. I think I would prefer wholesaling. Had some negative experiences with Bird-Dogging in that I ran into clients who did not want to do the work necessary to contact the home owners from our leads. One even gave us a hard time about paying us what they owed.

So tell me, what are your requirements for both Bird-Doggers and Wholesalers? I AM looking to build my list of rehabbers for me to assign deals to. :slight_smile:


P.S. - FYI. I also found it very interesting how many times our first workshop speaker, Ed Lisogar, had been to PHX. Ed is based in Scottsdale. He has an interesting website: SOOOooo many RE Investors in that overall PHX Metro area.

I paid $1995. I’d gone to their freebie sales pitch with a veteran investor I work with, and as I was later debating with myself about attending the main event, one of their guys from FL kept calling back and lowering the price.

Okay. Thanks.

That was Lesson Number One right there: always give yourself room in your initial price. (I shudder to think how much room they actually have.) Lesson Number Two: maintain walk-away power, and see what happens.

I hadn’t even meant to do that in their case, but I was conscious of it once it started happening, and I played into it. Oh well. I’m often surprised by the number of people saying “I want to buy real estate for a penny on the dollar”, and “oh yes, I know that negotiating is very important”, and then without a second thought they pay the initial asking price for a seminar.

Come on, guys. Sheez. (And you might ask yourselves how many guru products you’ve bought versus how many total deals you’ve done. Then ask yourselves what’s to be learned from the answer.)

Anyway, I think the seminar was good if you read between the lines. (Isn’t it a common seminar/guru theme that “I bring you the information, but it’s up to you what you do with it”?) I liked the instructors (Sherri Harrison and some bald guy from out east). But one of them fell out of their comfort zone trying to answer whether one of my simple-obvious variations on the theme might be worth pursuing. They’ll tell you to think outside the box, but if you actually do it, you might confuse them. That’s to be expected: they’re TEACHERS.

I think the PRs can pay the estate’s bills, or at least juggle them fairly well, precisely because they are overwhelmingly the more dedicated and responsible people among the heirs. That’s why (and how) they became PR in the first place.

Anyway. Enough about Banks.

When did I say I paid 1k per successful lead? I’ll have to check my posts. $500 has been my in-mind figure as long as I’ve been in the biz. (Ok, that’s only a year and a half if you don’t count the 6 months I spent reading library books and pestering investors who I had nothing to send to. But still. That’s always been my figure.)

Maybe someday I’ll devise a percentage. I don’t know. I’m new to recruiting birddogs (experience: about 6 days now), and don’t exactly have all my poop together yet.

I don’t know how you’d plan on birddogging from Kingman, and it’s a smaller town than I really want to get involved with. If you were here in Phoenix, we’d be talking already.

No “requirements” per se. Anybody is encouraged to call me any time with a lead, and I’m drafting some basic training materials. But if I provide more specific training or any specific lead sources, there’s probably going to have to be a signed (and mutual) non-circumvent.

I don’t want to be all OCD about it, but I think that’s only fair. I train you for a while, you bring your leads to me for that same while.

Hmm. If those guys who didn’t want to pay you are in Phoenix, I wouldn’t mind knowing who they are and what happened.


lol. Kingman, is only where I LIVE. Travelling on the weekends is not a problem. Don’t judge Kingman too harshly. The last big development that went up here sold out completely within the first 12 hours. It’s starting to boom. Retirees mostly.

I think Sheri is on the recorded CD’s if I am not mistaken. My instructors were different people. I think I would’ve liked yours better. Wish I had held out longer like you, but the class was like 10 days from the initial pitch so there was not much time (they probably purposefully did that).

Those PR’s must have big bucks to handle big bills like that then.

When I was asking about requirements, I should have more precisely asked what kind of information you expected or background work from your Bird Dogs.

Although I won’t get more specific with names as to who those guys were (customer/client priveledges) I will tell you that they were part of HomeVestors. If I am gonna Bird Dog again, it will most likely be for myself. It’s not difficult. But if I change my mind, I will need the 1K for my trouble. 500-1k is the norm anyway. If it’s payable at closing and it’s a good deal, what does the Wholesaler/Rehabber care anyway, right? Just a drop in the bucket. Some guys will even give waaaaay more than that if it works out. I have Bird Dogging contracts now anyway, so glad to see you and I are on the same page there. I refuse to do any more Doggin without one in the future.

So, is anyone having any luck with the probate angle???

I’ll check around and see if anyone is interested in Kingman properties.

I like and trust the HomeVestors guy I know; can’t imagine he’d make a fuss about paying anybody their due. But there are 11 or 12 other franchisees in town. And for all I know you were talking about someone in out-state or in Vegas. Anyway: I haven’t yet had a problem with anyone. Maybe I’ve been lucky, maybe there aren’t as many bad apples as we sometimes think.

The first guys I 'dogged for paid me well over twice our agreement rate for the first deal I sent them. They’re still on my buddy-list, too. But soon after that I was locked in a year-long exclusive with some other guys who also worked out really well. And the one of them who is still in the biz now is also still on my buddy-list.

I care what I pay because it comes out of my cut. Remember, I’m a wholesaler myself. But I’m upping my cut at my very next opportunity because I now know how to stay off a HUD sheet while still relying on title to do just about everything. I will gladly implement across the board raises soon as I can create one for myself. For now I’m starting my people at $500 per closing. Though a percentage may yet be a better answer. Either way, whenever they can build up the clout to re-negotiate, I welcome it. And I’m sure I’ll cave in right away. :slight_smile:

Requirements? I just want people to bring me leads good enough to close on. The only actual expectation is to abide by the non-circumvent if we sign it. The only reason to sign it is when someone wants specific training or lead sources from me, and I have them to offer.

If someone wants security, but not training, that’s fine too. I’ll sign a pay-the-birddog agreement. Not that I have it drafted up yet.

Alrighty then. You know bloody well where this is going. Don’tcha. So what do I have to do to get my hands on a copy of the one you’ve got?

It might just be that I need a birddog in Kingman after all. :slight_smile:


As you can see from PR1ME’s post, he has abandoned it. I am also following suit tommorrow. I also posted something similar to your post in the Beginners/Carlton Sheets Forum with no responses there whatsoever either. I am taking that to be an indication of the general consensus on Probate. Sorry to dissappoint. At least it is a good way to dig up (no pun intended) a few more leads when all else fails.

One positive thought however: When I went to the seminar, it was told to us that the Probate angle can work in most English law-based countries. Just because our lawyers are cut-throat here in the states, it does not necessarily hold true for other countries (Although I kinda doubt it. A lawyer is a lawyer is a lawyer. Right? lol). If one tries it say, over in England where the British Pound is worth more than the U.S. Dollar, your profit margin is much larger. The Canadian Dollar is also worth more too, last time I checked. Maybe those are untapped markets? Something to think about anyway… Best of Luck to you.