Selling a parent’s home after they pass on can be an overwhelming and emotional process. It can be especially challenging if there is a family conflict or you are unfamiliar with the legal issues that can arise when settling an estate. Estate planning law firms often work collaboratively with real estate attorneys to develop creative, practical solutions that can help you understand the law and resolve issues to get your parent’s property sold.
Does a Home Have to Go Through Probate?
In most cases, yes. Unless your parent put their home in a living trust, the home is part of the estate and must go through the probate process before it can be transferred or sold to anyone. Although selling a house while in probate is possible, the process is complicated. The probate court will monitor the process to ensure it is transparent and you are authorized to sell the home. If you are the executor or administrator of the estate, you are required to monitor and approve the sale of the home as well. Your probate attorney can advise you of all your rights and responsibilities as the executor of an estate.
Before you do anything else, find out if your parent is the sole owner of the property. If the home is jointly owned with a spouse or anyone else “with the right of survivorship,” they automatically become the sole owner of the home. These situations can be particularly tricky when an ex-spouse is still on the deed of a home. Experienced divorce attorneys usually advise clients to separate all property and update their estate plan after a major life change, but sometimes these things can fall through the cracks and cause serious problems when someone passes away unexpectedly.
Keep it Current
The transfer of property can take time, so it is important to continue to pay the mortgage, property taxes, and insurance while sorting out the estate. It’s also a good idea to keep utilities such as gas, electric and water on and to check on the property periodically to make sure it is in good shape. Whether you plan on selling the home or not, you will most likely need to get it appraised, so you want to ensure it is properly maintained.
Get an Appraisal
An appraisal is a professional valuation of what a home is worth. It is often required when an estate goes through probate and is used for tax purposes and to ensure all beneficiaries know the value of the property. An appraisal is usually required in any real estate transaction, so it is a must if you plan on selling the home. Once all of these matters are settled, a real estate attorney can assist you with the process of transferring the property and putting it up for sale.
Do you need assistance with settling an estate or selling a parent’s home? Our full-service law firm in West Chester can help you understand the process and walk you through it every step of the way.