How a trip to probate court can benefit your real estate business immensely
One of the top debates in the “How to get started in probate real estate” conversation is whether pulling probate leads on your own vs. buying probate lists online is the better strategy. That conversation involves many considerations, and the answer varies from person to person, from market to market, and can change with an individual’s overall business goals over time.
In any case, it’s always true that real estate agents and investors servicing families in probate should make at least one visit to the probate court in the county/counties they work. Even just one visit can help you:
- Expand your knowledge of the local probate process
- Increase your self-efficacy through direct and vicarious experience
- Build confidence in your service offerings
- Make your face a familiar one in the community
- Narrow-down marketing priorities
- Grow your sphere and strengthen existing relationships
And I mean it – These benefits are there for the taking, so don’t underestimate what you can accomplish just by taking a trip to the courthouse.
Ideas for your probate court to-do list
I put together a list of starting points to help you make the most out of a probate courthouse visit. Before you dive in, I want to shamelessly suggest subscribing to our YouTube channel where you can continue to pick up new ideas long after you’ve closed this article.
So let’s get some ideas going. Here’s a list of goals to add to your probate court to-do list:
Acting intentionally will help you make the most out of every moment of your courthouse visit.
Meet your probate court staff.
If you feel awkward going to probate court because you don’t have a specific case to show up for, knowing the folks who are there full-time can help you shake the feeling of being out-of-place. Introduce yourself to the probate clerk and other relevant staff members.
Being known can also have implied, informal benefits. A clerk who knows who you are might be more enthusiastic about answering questions or helping you fix a mistake in paperwork.
It’s good to get along with people, especially in this business. Get comfortable saying hello when you enter the room.
Learn your local probate process.
Don’t just learn the skin-and-bones of what the probate process entails.
Ask the clerk questions like what the average time to first hearing is, how long most cases are open, and what can ensure an efficient probate process.
Build depth of knowledge by sitting in on a probate hearing: Observe what’s presented to the court and how the judge responds. Take note of what cases seem to proceed smoothly or not and why that is.
Whether you have worked probate deals already or not, listening to probate cases will provide an important vicarious experience. This experience can reduce ‘probate expert imposter syndrome’ and increase self-efficacy, giving you the momentum you need for breakthroughs in personal growth and the confidence to lead other families through their unique probate situations.
Looking to master the ins and outs of probate? Take our comprehensive probate real estate certification course, which has earned over 300 5-star reviews and helped thousands of agents and investors close probate listings and investment deals.
Meet community professionals such as probate attorneys, fiduciaries, and social workers.
Being in the physical location where probate takes place means you get to be around other professionals that work in the probate space. Immersing yourself in the same environment allows you to see and be seen by potential partners and can be incredibly powerful for your B2B marketing efforts.
In fact, Bill Gross has built his entire probate real estate business around courthouse visibility.
Being visible is foundational to building credibility, and each subsequent visit will have a cumulative effect on how other frequent-flyers at the courthouse perceive you.
If you don’t get to introduce yourself while at the courthouse, try the digital-doorknocking approach with persons of interest you saw at probate court:
Create content for your real estate YouTube, Tik Tok, and Instagram/Facebook.
As you might already know, we encourage every probate real estate agent and investor to make a video at the probate courthouse to use in multi-sequence, multi-channel marketing.
But beyond that, why not use your local probate court as the scene for short, candid, and informal video content? More and more people are watching videos with 9:16 aspect ratios every day as the major social media platforms race to improve their video watch and content creation capabilities. A smartphone and you are all you need to jump on the wave.
Quick videos shot on your smartphone are a low-input, quick output option for Instagram and Facebook reels, Snapchat stories, YouTube Shorts, and TikTok videos. Content matters more than production value here, but don’t overthink it: Keep it casual, and don’t try to write a dissertation for a <60-second video.
The best part of shooting your real estate videos somewhere else? You don’t need to clean off your outfit chair or lose half your jawline to a bad virtual background AI. Simply share quick and concise tips, stories, and relevant updates while letting your courthouse backdrop demonstrate you’re really out here doing this.
Need some ideas for short videos? Check out these 18 Prompts for probate real estate video marketing content.
Meet probate petitioners, named executors, and appointed administrators.
At the end of the day, you’re in the business of generating leads and opportunities. Your most direct opportunity for a real estate listing or investment deal in the probate niche is through the decision-maker(s) in any given probate situation.
While a probate lead list will tell you who filed for probate, you can’t always deduce whether the court has accepted their petition or where they are in the probate process.
At probate court, you’ll see people that are filing for the first time, appearing for their first hearing, or appearing for successive hearings. You’ll have the opportunity to become a familiar face to estate administrators and executors and even make introductions. If you sit in on any hearings, you can gather context about someone in your lead lists without having to pick up the phone and cold call them.
Even if you don’t speak to a single personal representative that day, they might recognize your face the next time they see your marketing and think “Hey, that was the guy down there at the court!” This makes it much easier to pitch your probate USP when you do get the chance to speak to them.
Check rosters for upcoming hearings (so you can prioritize your follow-ups).
Some courts publish hearing rosters online, but many do not. If you’re at the courthouse anyway, ask the clerk to see a roster of upcoming probate hearings.
Knowing when someone has an upcoming hearing can help you focus your prospecting efforts. You don’t have to mention you know about their upcoming court date, but rather time a follow-up call when you know their probate case has an important milestone right around the corner.
You can also reach out to these contacts shortly after their hearing date, whether you appear in person for the hearing or not. I mean, what better time to nudge someone towards proper estate planning than right after a boring day at probate court? An offer for a consultation with an estate planning attorney you know or an invitation to a special information session will appear really casual and untargeted In any case, but you know the recency of their probate court hearing could make them especially receptive to this type of offer right now.
That’s just one idea, and there are many ways you can reach out and touch base. Timing your follow-ups around important court dates can help you reach people as they are starting to feel like they need some help after all.
….Just be sure to avoid the “Hey, I know you just left court, are you ready to sell mom’s house yet lol?” approach 😛
Still virtual? Get your face out there and own that digital real estate.
You don’t have to go to the courthouse to be present, and if your courthouse is still virtual this may be your best option for the short term. If your court allows interested parties to join probate hearings, you can become a familiar face just by showing up. Your face will be on a grid for the entire duration of the virtual meeting, which is more facetime than you’ll get walking by someone in a lobby. This means people will start to recognize you anywhere they see your face in your marketing and branding efforts elsewhere.
Use your FULL NAME for maximum recognition. If the judge is more casual, you can even add a title to your name.
If you can’t join hearings live, but can only access replays, you’ll still get the benefit of seeing who has a hearing and what happened. In most of the virtual court hearings I’ve tuned into, participants enter at least a first name and last initial, if not a full name. You get to see a screen full of faces and names, which is much more accessible than trying to run around taking notes and catching looks at faces at the courthouse.
Whether you’re able to show your face or not, knowing virtual probate hearing, you know who to reach out to with a quick check-in. Something like, “Saw you at court today. Is everything going as quickly as it should?” Or “Last time we spoke, you mentioned ______. Is that still the case? How are things going?” Now that they are in the throes of the Probate legal process, they might be much more aware of what’s on their plate, and much happier to hear from someone they know (even if it’s just from one letter or one phone call).
In short, jumping on a virtual probate court session could help you determine the highest-priority follow-ups in your probate real estate database, boost your recognizability, and help you get some context about your leads’ individual probate circumstances without leaving the house.
Bonus tip: How to speed-network and create instant connections:
While attorneys might be more used to business cards, try using custom branded sticky notes or notepads to write a quick note before exiting a conversation with someone you just met. Something as simple as a website URL or YouTube Channel name will help.
Alternatively, try re-imagining the traditional business card and create a “connect card” geared towards creating instant connections. Instead of handing someone a card with all the ways they can contact you if and when they feel like it, win the connection right then and there before the card has the chance to collect pocket lint, go for a swim in the washing machine, or -*gasp*- get thrown away.
In my time working in event promotions, my most powerful tool was a cheap, one-sided, matte business card that had ZERO text, just a single snapcode (a QR code branded for individual snapchat accounts).
This was my super-cheap, super-effective connect card for snapchat adding, a huge money maker for me in promotional networking year after year:
People you meet can just scan your QR code and connect instantly.
Facebook also makes it easy to create QR codes for Facebook Groups, which are a great tool for hyperlocal marketing.
To make a QR code for your Facebook Group just takes a couple steps.
- First, find the invite button in your Facebook Group and click “invite friends”
- Instead of typing a friends name, look at the bottom of the pop-up window for this QR-code option
You can create a connect card with any social media profile or webpage you can create a QR code for, but the best use case is something someone can add/follow/create a permanent connection with you through. In other words, if your connect card links to a webpage, your contact will at the very least need to fill out a contact form to get captured anywhere. Compare that to using a social platform, where a contact will be able to click a follow/add/subscribe button and get permanently connected in one click.
The reason a simple connect card works so well is because people can pull out their phones and add you right there, as they’re giving you face-to-face assurance they want to stay in touch. If you’ve ever told someone you’d fill out one of those satisfaction surveys at the bottom of a receipt, then forgot to do it and lost the receipt who-knows-where, you’ll understand why connecting instantly and easily is so powerful.
This instant connection also brings the long-term benefit of your new friend/follower/subscriber/opt-in having access to your content and communications on an ongoing basis in a passive, unintrusive, costless way. They can see your content without paid postage or ad spend whenever you put new content on that platform.
Connect cards make it so you can act on someone’s willingness to “be in touch” right then and there. Consider where your stronger social media presence and content offerings are, and use that destination for your connect card.
Go out there and create new opportunities for your probate real estate business!
So there you have it – Take some inspiration and commit to making your next probate court visit exceptionally productive. And if you’ve got questions, ideas, or results to share, please leave a comment – You never know who you’ll help.
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