A trustee is someone who is legally appointed by a court to hold property for the benefit of a beneficiary. In many cases, the trustee is holding the property for a bank or lender as the result of a foreclosure proceeding. A trustee may also be holding the property for sale as the result of bankruptcy proceedings or for sale through probate proceedings. A notice of trustee sale is the legal notice required when a trustee is planning to sell the property at auction. The requirements for when and how the notice of trustee sale is published will vary depending on the jurisdiction as well as the reason for the sale.
When a property is the subject of foreclosure proceedings, the court will eventually order the property turned over to a trustee for sale. The property is then sold at auction and the proceeds are used to pay off the debt to the lender. In most jurisdictions, the rules for the sale of a foreclosed property are very detailed. As a rule, for at least 30 days before the sale, a notice of trustee sale must be published in a local newspaper. The notice of trustee sale must also be published more than once—generally three times—before the sale may proceed.
In a foreclosure sale, the notice of trustee sale must usually include the legal description of the property, the reason for the sale, and the date and time of the sale. Interested bidders may view the property, but are generally not afforded the opportunity to thoroughly inspect the property before the sale. At the sale, the highest bidder becomes the owner of the property. Frequently, the lender buys the property back at the trustee sale.
A trustee sale that is part of a bankruptcy proceeding works in much the same way that a foreclosure sale operates. The bankruptcy court trustee must publish a notice of trustee sale providing information about the property and the time and place of the sale. Proceeds from the sale will be used by the bankruptcy trustee to pay creditors of the debtor.
When a person dies, a probate estate must be opened to inventory the decedent's property, pay creditors, and distribute the remaining property to the beneficiaries. In many cases, a trustee is appointed to sell property of the estate in order to pay creditors or in order to evenly distribute the assets. As in the other examples, a notice of trustee sale must be published notifying potential buyers of the sale.