Death always brings with it an array of emotions and struggles. When a close family member dies, not only do you mourn, but you're also left to deal with their assets, such as their home. How do you go about selling a home after the sole owner of that home passes away? Follow these steps.
Find out what the will says and ensure the deed is transferred to a living heir.
If the deceased person has a will, the first thing you'll need to do is have the will read to see who the home is "left to." If the person did not leave behind a will, then what happens to the home will depend on your state's laws. Typically, the court will appoint someone in the deceased person's family to oversee various portions of the estate, including the house. This is done through a process called probate, during which the title of the property is transferred to a court-named heir.
The home's deed should also be examined as a part of this step. Sometimes, deeds are drawn up with a "transfer on death" clause. In this clause, a person will be specifically named to inherit the property upon death of the owner. Transferring the deed to someone named in a "transfer on death" clause is usually quick and easy -- you'll just have to sign some paperwork.
Find a realtor, and prepare to sell.
Once the home's deed is officially signed over to a living individual (either someone named in the will, named in a transfer by death clause, or appointed by the court), that individual can move forward with selling the home if they please. In the meantime, that person is responsible for paying the taxes, utility bills, and other expenses related to the home. If clearing clutter out of the home is essential, this step is typically taken at this point. The easiest option is often to hire an estate sale company to oversee the process and auction off unwanted items.
When you are ready to sell, it's important to find a realtor who has experience selling homes left behind after death. Each state has different regulations regarding what has to be disclosed. For example, in some states you must disclose to buyers that someone died in the home regardless of the cause of death. In other states, this only has to be disclosed in the case of murder or suicide. An experienced realtor will be most familiar with these laws. The realtor will also help you determine what the home is worth so that you can set a fair asking price.
Once the home is on the market, you can breathe easy. The hard part is over, and from here on out, selling the home of the deceased is just like selling any other home. Talk with a probate lawyer or real estate agents for more information and assistance.