Updated: 01 August 2022
Coping with the death of a parent is challenging enough, and selling their home can be an added stress for children.
Grieving family members may be unable to make decisions. Unless someone takes charge, the home might fall into disrepair.
Siblings may also have emotional attachments to it or unrealistic expectations about the value of the home.
It’s all made even worse, if the parent dies without a Will.
The job of selling your parent’s home after they’ve passed away can be long and difficult, or it can be relatively easy.
It depends in large part on the beneficiaries’ ability to ask for help from professionals who know what they’re doing.
As a senior lawyer specialising in Wills and estates, I can tell you that the sooner the process starts, the better. Parents can take actions while they’re alive to help avoid complications.
This can include simplifying and decluttering their homes, and downsizing to more suitable and lower-maintenance accommodation before it’s too late.
It also definitely includes creating a modern integrated estate plan which is kept up to date.
Sometimes older people might need some gentle encouragement to ensure that their affairs are put in order before their health fades too much.
This discussion may be difficult and awkward, but it’s worth it to be informed, so adult children are not scrambling and confused while grieving.
With the right planning, selling your parent’s home after they’ve passed away doesn’t have to be difficult, and can be a relatively painless process, if it’s done properly and with advice from experienced professionals.
How a good Probate lawyer can help
When you consult a lawyer about probate, s/he can refer you to other advisers to assist in the sales process:
- An estate auctioneer, who can provide an estimate of value for household furniture and effects, and can organise for their sale;
- Charities who might be interested in receiving (and in some cases collecting) some of the furniture and effects which isn’t likely to sell well at auction;
- Junk collectors who can clear a typical house in half a day;
- A good real estate agent who knows the local housing market;
- a builder who can advise upon the local building codes and any repairs or renovations that need to be made. This will generally include trades such as plumbers, electricians and painters.
The probate lawyer can advise if there is a need to evict any occupants still living in the property. Often this can be a family member who might feel entitled to remain, and it is best to let the lawyer be the ‘bad guy’ when delivering the unwelcome news that the house needs to be cleared and sold to administer the estate.
The probate lawyer can often arrange for deferral of estate expenses such as utilities, council rates and similar.
The probate lawyer can advise about the time limits and taxation considerations that can impact the nett sales proceeds. It is best not to leave the property sale too after the owner’s death.
Here are some helpful tips to help you sell your parent’s house:
- Be certain that both parents have a valid and up-to-date Will. Do NOT rely upon cheap or DIY Wills, which frequently cause massive problems for the family later on.
- Be prepared to spend some money, because there are costs associated with clearing, maintaining and selling the property (you’ll get the money back after the house sells).
- The executor should change the locks to keep the house secure. This can keep-out relatives who might have ambitions to liberate specific items from the estate to which they feel a sense of entitlement.
- Ask a real estate agent to run a competitive market analysis and have a licensed appraiser provide a written estimate of value of the property.
- Designate a contact person, so the executor can keep all heirs informed.
- Take careful advice about the cost-benefits of renovating the property. While cosmetic fixes can pay off, more substantial improvements generally don’t.
With the right professional advice and the right planning, selling your parent’s home after they’ve passed away can be a quick and painless process.
Specialising in trusts, Wills and estates, Genders and Partners are the oldest law firm in South Australia – established 1848.
Contact us to learn more about estate-planning and estate-administration solutions, by visiting our website today and schedule a free no obligation telephone consultation to find out how we can help you and yours.
FREE REPORT “7 Things You Must Know About Probate and Estate Administration”
In this report you will Learn:
- What is Probate
- Duties of Executors
- Who Should Serve as Executor
- Executor’s Commissions
- Legal Fees and Expenses
- Sale of Real Estate and Other Property
- Challenges to the Will or Estate