Maybe you’re the executor of an estate who’s been tasked with the responsibility of selling the decedent’s home and returning the proceeds to the estate to be distributed among their beneficiaries. Perhaps a parent or other loved one has left you their home in their estate plan and told you to feel free to sell it and keep the money.
Either way, you’ve got a big job ahead of you. It can be difficult to know where to start. It’s important to make selling it a priority. However, you’ll first need to find out whether the home has to go through probate. If it was part of a living trust rather than a will or if you were listed on the title, for example, it will likely avoid probate, which means you can put it on the market sooner.
The longer a home remains empty, the greater the chance of theft or vandalism. You may want to change the locks if you’re not sure who has the keys. You also need to keep an eye on it (or have a trusted person do it). It may be worthwhile to install a security system.
You’ll need to deal with financial obligations for the home until it’s sold
Further, numerous financial obligations still need to be met until someone else assumes ownership. These can include:
- Insurance premiums
- Utilities and other maintenance costs
- Mortgage payments
- Property taxes
- Homeowners’ association (HOA) dues
If the furnishing and other items in the home are designated to be sold as well (after any items designated to be given to individuals have been removed), you’ll probably want to contact a business that handles estate sales.
Let experienced professionals advise you
You may want to find a Certified Probate Real Estate Specialist (CPRES) with training in these sales. You should at least find a real estate agent who has experience selling decedents’ homes.
Of course, having legal representation can also help you ensure that you’re handling the process in accordance with the law and provide you with valuable guidance.