Much of the work fell on Carlson, then 28, since the other beneficiary was her older sister, who lives in New York City.
The Philadelphia Inquirer’s recent article, “With proper planning, selling a parent’s house can be a relatively painless process—or not,” says that after finding a real estate agent with estate sale experience, she learned about probate, as well as the local building codes and repairs that needed to be made.
She was even tasked with telling her father’s friend, who had been bunking in the cabin, that he’d have to move out.
Coping with a death of a parent is challenging enough, but selling their home can be extremely stressful for children. It can be even worse if they die without a will. Grieving family members may be ill-equipped to make decisions, and a home can fall into disrepair. Siblings may also have emotional attachments to it and unrealistic expectations about the sale price.
The job can be difficult and long or relatively easy. It depends in large part on the heirs’ ability to ask for help and hiring a professional who knows the local housing market. Experts say the sooner the process starts, the better. Parents can also take action while they’re alive to help avoid complications. This discussion may be difficult and awkward, but it’s worth it to be informed so adult children are not scrambling while grieving. Here are some helpful tips:
- Be certain that both parents have a will.
- Be prepared to spend some money, because there are costs associated with maintaining and selling the property.
- The Personal Representative (or executor) should change the locks to keep unwelcome visitors out.
- Ask a real estate agent to run a competitive market analysis and have an appraisal done by a licensed appraiser.
- Designate a contact person so the Personal Representative can keep all heirs or beneficiaries informed.
A big deterrent to selling a parent’s house is typically the emotional attachment of the children. Experts say that while cosmetic fixes can pay off, more substantial improvements generally don’t.
There are also estate, inheritance, and income taxes that can impact the net sales proceeds. There can be a tax benefit to selling an inherited property, because when a property is inherited after a person’s death, the “basis” in the property is “stepped up” to fair market value at the time of the owner’s death, so if the recipient sells the property, typically no capital gains tax is applied.
Reference: The Philadelphia Inquirer (June 22, 2019) “With proper planning, selling a parent’s house can be a relatively painless process—or not”