What to do with the Family Home after the Parents Pass Away

There are many difficult choices to be made following the death of a parent.

Home for SaleLosing your parents is clearly a very difficult time for all the loved ones involved. Many survivors don’t know where to start when it comes to finalizing the wishes of their parents. There are so many things to consider and emotions are running high. What are some of the things you should do with the family home after your parents pass away?

Appoint an Executor
First off, an executor should be named who will be in charge of all the upcoming decisions. This executor is either named in a will, or if a will wasn’t prepared, the process goes through the courts and an executor is appointed. Although the executor is the one in charge, ideally that executor will work with other survivors, as well. If the affairs are complicated, or family relations are particularly prickly, hiring an estate attorney for additional assistance may be worth looking into.

Before any decision is made on the family home, the executor should look at the assets (life insurance, savings, annuities, investments) and debts (bills and tax debt) and settle any outstanding bills. Most agree that these affairs should be in order before any decisions are made regarding the home.

Following the loved ones’ wishes is imperative. So assuming the sale of the family home is their desire (verses donating it) and once the other financial affairs are in order, discuss with all those involved the following things that need to take place before the home is ready to go on the market.

Go through belongings
If the parents did not direct certain possessions to go to certain heirs, collectively the survivors need to go through the items in the home and divide them evenly.   There needs to be agreement on which items should go to the survivors, which should be sold (perhaps at an estate sale) and things that should be either donated or tossed.

Repairs
Homes almost always need repairs of some sort, so make sure you get an outside opinion on what repairs are necessary before the home goes on the market. Be sure to keep detailed lists of how many dollars are spent to repair the home.

Renovations
Perhaps your parents lived in their home for 50 years and it needs some updating. Together decide what basic things need to be changed – like paint, carpet and fixtures. And again keep track of the expenses.

Thorough Cleaning and Staging
Once the repairs and renovations are done, clean the home from top to bottom and keep the home simply furnished. Homes are almost always more appealing with some furniture, accessories and wall art. Once the home is clean and staged, then the home is ready for sale.

Be prepared for this to be an exhausting process. Not only are you grieving, but you’re physically going through your loved ones’ home and personal belongings – all which hold memories and can add to the grieving process. There are bound to be disagreements and challenges along the way, and everyone will need to be ready to compromise on one thing or another. If you follow these tips, hopefully things will go smoothly, and in the end, your parents’ wishes will be honored.

The Minnesota Association of REALTORS® is the largest trade association in the state with more than 17,000 members. MNAR is the voice for real estate in Minnesota.

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