Selling your own house is hard enough, let alone trying to sell your parents’ home after their death. You miss your parents and are grieving. Now, you and your siblings are responsible for selling their personal property. Trying to find solutions for those tangible assets with lesser value is usually easier to manage, but when it comes to real estate, there are many complications. The difference of opinion and time to manage the details can cause friction and sever relationships between family members.
In this article, we detail a few major points to help you and your family move forward. We will look at the legal rights, potential conflicts between family members, making improvements or selling “as is,” preparing to sell, and moving on. Besides, you will know the time that you have to sell a house after someone dies.
Table of Contents:
1. Legal Rights
After saying goodbye to your loved one, reality sets in as you try to figure out what’s next. If your parent(s) died without a will, that means he or she has died intestate. When this happens, the state where your parents maintained their residence will determine how their assets will be distributed.
These include assets from real estate, securities, bank accounts, and any others they can find under your parent’s name. In most cases, the assets are distributed among their heirs, which could include a surviving spouse, siblings, children, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, etc. When the state cannot locate any living relatives, all assets will go to the state.
What happens when there’s a will left behind for their heirs? What do the heirs need to do when it comes to dealing with real property? That process is called probate. The probate process could be complicated or simple, depending on how it is handled.
The probate process begins when the executor, who is named as such in the last will, presents the will in probate court where the decedent lived or owned property. Once confirmed and appointed by the court, the executor now becomes the legal representative of the estate. The following are the five basic steps to probate:
- File a petition and give notice to heirs and beneficiaries
- Take inventory of the estate property
- Give notice to all known creditors of the estate
- All debts and taxes are paid from the estate’s account
- Legal title is transferred according to the will or under the laws of intestate
The probate process can be lengthy, but if the heirs agree to seek legal guidance from the beginning, it can greatly reduce the amount of time and stress involved.
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2. Family Conflicts
With so many things going on, how can you prevent family tension and friction so that it won’t damage your family relationships? Seeking legal guidance provides considerable help. Someone who understands the process and is not emotionally attached will help lift the heavy load from the family. It might be an additional expense to add to the list, but it will save on the stress and quality of the relationships. It is well worth it.
Once you have legal help, discuss each scenario to see if you can come to an agreement, in writing. Throw out all the “what if” scenarios.
- What if one wants to sell and one wants to keep the property?
- What if one wants to sell “as is” and one wants to make major improvements?
- How do you decide on a plan and how each person contributes their time, energy and expertise?
Each scenario should have a solution. Addressing it upfront saves you time and headaches. If anyone has a change of mind later, they can’t come back and say, I didn’t agree to that. If that ever happens all you need to do is show the agreement.
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3. Sell the property in “as is” condition or make improvements?
This subject should be covered early on as well. Discuss whether the beneficiaries have the time to make home improvements.
- If they do, then decide on which improvements will be made?
- What is the budget for these improvements?
- Who is nominated to manage or carry through on the projects?
- What will they get out of it?
Or, you may decide to leave everything “as is” and sell it without investing more of your time or money. Typically, the deciding factors are more complicated when siblings are involved than when the actual homeowners are making a decision to sell.
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4. Prepare to Sell
Finally, we’re here. Getting the house on the market is an exciting thing, but the last thing you’d want is to hire an inexperienced real estate agent who doesn’t have first-hand experience with a probate sale. It might look as though a real estate agent’s role is toward the end of the process, but you might find that working with a real estate agent from the beginning is a wiser move.
Real estate agents can assist you each step of the way, from finding legal guidance to evaluating the property to see whether it makes more sense to sell it “as is” or make specific improvements to maximize market value. Have the real estate agent complete a market analysis for both scenarios, and you can do your own comparisons.
By then, you will have outlined the deciding factors before getting together with the other beneficiaries. Or, you will have gone through the process together and can agree on the wisdom of the approach that best suits your family dynamics, time and priorities.
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5. Moving On
It’s sad to say goodbye to a loved one, so hopefully, all beneficiaries can find common ground to work through this matter. Your loved ones have left something for you and your siblings. Try to remember that this is something they worked very hard for.
It’s something they truly valued and wanted it to benefit you. That’s why your name is on that will. They wanted to leave things that are precious to them, so you could have good memories whenever you think of them. So accept it with gratitude and say, “Thank you for thinking of me!”
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By now, it might occur to you that it’s better for everyone to have a will in place. If you think wills are for those who are wealthy, you are absolutely wrong. Having a will is an essential part of any estate plan. It’s a primary document you can leave behind for your loved ones and help them from scrambling. The old adage, “you can’t take it with you,” literally applies. So how are you planning to leave your assets behind? Estate or Intestate? You probably have an answer by now.
Find an experienced estate attorney, make your plans, and let your wishes be known. You will be making the process much easier on those who are left to settle your estate and move on in their lives without you. I hope you find this article, if you do please share it on your social media pages for others to learn from. Thanks!