Losing a loved one is a difficult process and dealing with their estate can be overwhelming. I have helped many clients sell their parents home, and I have dealt with two of my own parent’s estates over the past year.

  With most of my clients there was no planning or preparation, so in addition to selling their home, they had to deal with personal belongings, and trying to determine what bills they had to pay or cancel, and some had to deal with probate court.

  Several of my clients hired an auctioneer to sell their personal property and they hired an attorney after the death of their loved one to help with probate court.

  Many homes of older people are dated and have deferred maintenance because it was difficult or expensive to maintain. Without a will, the property generally passes to the children equally. This can be a problem if there are stepchildren, as they may be left with nothing without a will.

  Some siblings live in different states and don’t get along. If they all own the property equally; they may all be required to sign a listing agreement, purchase agreement, and closing documents. In this case they don’t always agree on the price, selling as is, making improvements to sell, or even selling at all. Having an executor established could help resolve some issues.

  When my dad was diagnosed with cancer, we met with a local attorney, Tim Peterson, and he reviewed my dad and stepmother’s assets, updated their will and put their properties into a Trust. We all new exactly what our parents wishes were so there was no dispute. When questions came up, we had our local expert to turn to.

  Several of my older clients sell their home and downsize to a condo, townhome, or apartment to avoid maintaining a home. When their home is sold while they are living, they have say in what happens to their personal belongings, and it is usually easier for the children to help their parents with this transition while they are still alive.

  If you are concerned about dealing with a loved one’s estate, I strongly suggest that you meet with an attorney before they pass, and an experienced local real estate agent to determine the best way to deal with a difficult situation.

    Ask the Real Estate Agent is a weekly column by Cheryl Kempenich of Coldwell Banker Burnet, who lives and offices in the Chisago Lakes Area. Submit your questions to ckempenich@cbburnet.com. All information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. For legal assistance consult an attorney.