3 Steps to Take When Inheriting a House
By Solid Serenity Legal Solutions
If you have recently inherited a house through a probate or trust, you are likely confused as to what your next steps should be. Coming into ownership of a home involves may responsibilities and requires important decisions be made.
While it can be hard to determine the best move to make for buying a home, its even tougher when acquiring a home comes in the aftermath of losing a loved one. Here are 3 steps to take when inheriting a house.
(1) Immediate Actions
As soon as you can, go to the home and make certain it is secure. You do not want vandals or vagrants making their way into the property and using it while it is vacant.
While there, remove all important documents including bank statements, trust papers, and any estate planning documents, such as a Will or Trust. You want to secure these documents so you can decide what your next steps are.
Review all of the documents you recovered and determine who are the trustees, or successor trustees, or representatives of the estate are and which attorney created the documents. After reviewing the documents, contact the attorney and the family CPA to set up consultations.
(2) Manage the Estate
After you secure the home and all important documents, the next step is to begin to manage the estate. You will want to start the necessary proceedings to distribute any assets to the heirs. If the deceased had no documents, or a Will, you will likely need to initiate a probate to transfer the home. Contact a probate attorney to confirm whether you need a probate.
Next, you need to notify the banks and establish an account and Employer Identification Number with the IRS specifically for estate business. Keep detailed records of any necessary expenses of the estate.
Continue to make payments on the property such as mortgage payments, utilities, and property taxes from the estate account if you can. If you can’t keep an eye on the house, speak with neighbors to the property and ask them if they can keep an eye on the house and pick up any leaflets or junk mail left at the house so you do not broadcast to criminals the house is empty.
Next, if you or a family member do not intend to keep the home, call a local realtor with a good reputation to get referrals for estate sale companies in the area as well as an overview of the market in the area. You will want to get an idea of what the home can sell for as-is and what it might sell for if it is fixed up and the costs of repairs to the home to get it in mint selling condition.
(3) Finalizing the Estate
Contact your estate planning or probate attorney to determine what steps you need to take and when you can move forward to live in, lease, or sell the property. If the property is going through probate, the sale will require a court-approved document.
Probates delay decisions and many obstacles can arise throughout the process. Meet again with the realtor and determine your best path forward and if you should proceed with selling the property as-is, or if you should make improvements. If the estate has the funds, you can use estate assets to make the repairs.
Have a family meeting to discuss all of the information you have received from each resource so that everyone is on the same page moving forward. Reach out to your attorney, realtor, and tax adviser to determine if now is the time to sell if that is your decision, or if you should wait and hold onto or lease the property for the time being. Finally, make a well-informed decision to keep, sell, or lease the property and split the proceeds as the probate or Trust demand.
To find out more about probates, click here.