It’s not uncommon for people to designate in their estate plan that they want their home to be sold and the proceeds to go to the estate rather than to leave it to a particular family member. Typically, the proceeds of the sale will become part of the estate, which is distributed to beneficiaries in the amounts or percentages the deceased person specified.
One of the first things you’ll likely need to do once you’ve officially been recognized by the probate court as the executor of the estate is to hire a real estate agent. It’s best to hire one who has experience with probate real estate sales. Some agents are even Certified Probate Real Estate Specialists (CPRES).
Is probate required?
Perhaps the house itself doesn’t have to go through probate. If the deceased person included it in a living trust or testamentary trust, for example, it should be able to avoid probate. It’s still wise to have a real estate professional with this experience.
Whether the home has to go through probate or not, its sale is one of the first things you should focus on as you administer the estate. It’s likely the largest asset and the most complicated one. Further, the longer you keep it, the longer taxes, insurance and possibly mortgage payments and other costs have to be made from the estate.
For the sake of simplicity, let’s say the homeowner already gave away anything from the home they wanted loved ones to have and specified that all remaining furniture and other items should be sold and the proceeds returned to the estate. An estate sale company can price each item, hold a sale and take a percentage of the proceeds.
How much repair and renovation should you do?
Deciding whether to fix up the property before you sell it is something to discuss with the real estate agent. You likely don’t want massive repairs and renovations that will delay putting the home on the market, even if it means getting a better price. However, if the home has fallen into disrepair, a buyer might not be able to get financing on it.
It can all seem daunting. Calling in professionals can ease the burden. An experienced estate planning attorney can provide valuable guidance throughout the process and help the settlement of the estate go as smoothly and quickly as possible.