Selling a House After A Relative Dies

What is an Estate Sale?

The death of a loved one is always devastating to a family. Not only do you have to deal with the emotional unrest that happens when your loved one passes on, but you also have to deal with other stressful situations like selling your relative’s home.

Selling a home after the death of a relative is called an “estate sale.”

The term “estate sale” can often be understood in various ways. For instance, if you aren't a real estate agent, you are probably thinking that an estate sale is an auction where furniture and other possessions are sold for cash. Most realtors see an estate sale as selling a property for one of the deceased's heirs. Both interpretations are essentially correct. Estate sales are also called “tag sales” in some parts of the country.

Selling the home in Fort Lauderdale of a person who recently passed away is about the sames as selling any other home, but there are some more factors to consider. Knowing what to do when faced with these factors will make the process of dealing with an estate sale much easier, but it isn't an easy task by far. You suddenly have to deal with emotional turmoil, and now you have to deal with the additional stress of selling a home. The most common situation is a daughter or son having to sell a parents house. There will be a lot an emotional attachment in some sorts, especially when the seller grew up in the house.

This can make selling your deceased loved one's house that more difficult. It will leave them wondering what to do with the house they've inherited. Below you’ll find some tips for selling a home after the death of a loved one.

Selling a Home In Fort Lauderdale After the Passing of a Loved One

To understand how to sell an estate, there are some vital factors to consider. Consider the following:

1. Transference of real estate after death

If a person dies intestate (without a will) or testate (with a will) then the property is passed directly to the heirs at law or directly to the beneficiaries under the will.  For instance:  A single parent passes away leaving behind her three children.  The house has been left equally to all siblings.  The tree children have rights to equal ownership of the house upon death.They don’t need the court or executor to transfer the home to them – they get it automatically.  That would happen with or without a will. So what happens when it is time to sell the house?

First thing you should do is to make sure the executor has the authority to sell the house. The will should have specific instructions on selling the house. If the Executor doesn't have authority over the property, then the beneficiaries have the authority to sell the property without the executor’s consent. The laws that govern the sale of the home of a relative after his/her death varies from state to state. You should consult with a qualified real estate attorney before you make any decisions on what the do with the home.

Important note: 

If you find yourself in a situation where there are more debts than there are assets to pay, this is known as being insolvent. In this circumstance, it is vital that you NOT pay any debts you don’t have to—state law will tell you what debt has priority to be paid. This will prevent you from becoming personally liable for the debt. For instance, don’t pay the gardener or the phone bill. These should be paid by the executor of the state once approved.

2. Pay the bills for the house

Be wise to stay current with the bills related to the home – like the mortgage, utilities, and maintenance – until the sale of the home is complete. Everyone is still expecting the money they're owed to be settled or paid in full. If you are dealing with the death of an older parent, they may have had a reverse mortgage. If so, make sure you inform yourself on what are the necessary steps to take when selling a home with a reverse mortgage. Just remember, paying the bills should be done through the estate and NOT personally!

3. Collect all the necessary documents related to the home.

One of the most unpleasant, but most essential, things that you may need to do is gather all necessary financial documents. These documents are crucial for the assessment of the estate, including the house(s). Things become much more complicated without all the required documentation, .

Most of the time, all documents won’t be in the same place, so you may have to do a tedious search in order to locate everything you need. Look everywhere because sometimes people will stash them in hidden places. The documents you need to gather include:

  • Will – If there is a will, it will make it easier to distribute the estate.

  • Receipts from bills – You have to freeze your loved one's credit and contact the three major credit reporting agencies, including all other creditors.

  • Investment documents – Your relative may have had stocks, bonds, mutual funds etc..

  • Insurance documents – They may have purchased a private policy or have a policy from an employer.

  • Homeowner’s policy – Keep homeowner’s insurance up to date on all the properties.

  • Bank account documentation – You need detailed information on all of your loved one's bank accounts.

  • Personal documents – If your relative had any personal documents, like journals, poetry, etc., you may want to keep it for sentimental value.

Once you have gathered all the necessary documents, properly dispose of and get rid of everything else that might have their personal information (social security number) on it. It is a quite common for scammers to use the social security numbers of a deceased individual.

4. Change The Locks and Mail Delivery

You need to have complete control of the property when selling a home in Fort Lauderdale as an estate sale. This means forwarding or holding the mail, so you receive it in a timely fashion. Remember, there are more than a few people who know about your loved one's death, and the fact the home may be vacant. You should also change the locks so no one tries to take advantage of this fact. This will enhance the home's security.

5. Go Through Everything in the Home

Sell or keep items, but you'll have to get rid of everything in the house. Potential buyers most likely won't be interested in the majority of your loved one's possessions, so ideally you will clear out the home altogether – and have it staged professionally for sale – or just remove all of the personal belongings and only leave behind enough furniture to help with the sale.

You can find some more info on selling vacant vs. occupied to see what best suits your situation.

Clearing out the whole house of your relative’s possessions will be a very tedious task. That is why it is good idea to have a process that makes things a little easier.

Separate the items into categories based on what you will do with each item as you process it. Either keep what you need, trash what you don't need, donate what you can, or sell it. If your relative was fortunate enough to own a lot of valuable possessions, it may be a good idea to hold an estate sale. This will help you to maximize the value of your relative’s possessions. See how to pack a house for moving for additional moving tips before you sell your relative's house in South Florida. The sooner you remove everything out of the house, the sooner you can put it on the market to sell.

6. Get the Home Ready to For Market

Most of the time, when selling a home in South Florida that was owned and occupied for decades by an older relative, there is some more work involved in getting the house ready for sale. The house might be outdated or have damages that have been overlooked for a long time.

You may want to contact a good real estate agent to give you advice on what needs to be changed or repaired prior to you putting the house on the market. If you want to get top dollar, you most likely will need to make a few changes. They may include:

  • Thoroughly cleaning

  • Installing a new roof

  • Tossing old furniture

  • Switching out old window coverings

  • Scraping off wallpaper

  • Replacing old carpeting or other dated flooring

  • Installing new fixtures and updating lighting

  • Applying a fresh coat of paint inside and out

After you do all this work or have paid to have this done, then you can go ahead and list it through your Realtor. The realtor will more than likely take at least 6% of the equity in commissions, but you still should be able to sell it at fair market value to compensate for the time and money lost.

7. Did The Seller Die in The Home

Be prepared for the buyer to ask if the death happened in the home whenever you are selling in an estate sale. They might not like the idea because it gives most people the creeps. Some states require full disclosure if a death occurred in a home.

In other states disclosure of death is not required. For example, Florida, you do not have to disclose a death in a home even if it is murder. Do some research on the matter as it relates to your state.

9. Sell Your Inherited House in Fort Lauderdale For Cash

Option Capital Investments, LLC. aka the "Offer Me Cash" team of South Florida is a great resource for home sellers that simply would like to be done with the whole situation quickly without having to go through everything mentioned above. You can sell your inherited house "as-is," in any condition for cash, and close quick. This would enable you to avoid having to deal with all the emotion turmoil that comes with selling the home of a deceased loved one and the fees associated with dealing with a realtor.

Note: We are not trying to discourage you from using a real estate agent because the right agent can be a great resource, but selling your inherited property to an investor like Option Capital Investments, LLC. would be a whole lot easier for this situation.

10. After Estate Sale Tax Consequences

When selling an estate one of the most important financial considerations will be dealing with taxes. For vital tax considerations and how they relate to your personal circumstances be sure to see the IRS guidelines on estate sales. Having a massive unexpected tax bill is never fun. In fact, it is the last thing you’ll want to deal with after the death of a parent.

Final Thoughts

Selling a home in an estate sale after the death of a loved one can be a stressful experience, but it doesn't really have to be. Hopefully this article has given you enough tips to get you started. Best of wishes to you!

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