Often the death of a loved one can be followed by the task of dealing with how to sell their home and sort through any property or possessions left behind. Hopefully, they will have a will. Lots of mistakes can be made during this difficult time. Here are some pitfalls to watch out for and a way to handle them.
Sorting Through The Possessions After A Death
When a person dies, their property passes to their personal representative. The personal representative then distributes the deceased’s person’s assets (money, possessions, and property) in accordance with the law, the will – if there is one – of the laws of intestacy if there is no will. Going through all these possessions can become a huge drain on you.
We would like to offer some suggestions to make this job less stressful.
- Label four boxes as personal correspondence, photographs, medical papers, legal documents.
- As you go through the house (including drawers and closets) put the paper and items in those marked boxes.
- You can sort through each box later and decide what needs to be kept.
Do Not Assume That Things Are Worthless
When you clear out possessions after a bereavement, you might discover some treasures that can be sold or handed down as a family heirloom. When it comes to jewelry, unless the will stipulates it must be given to a particular person, you must decide. Certain vintage costume jewelry pieces are worth hundreds of dollars, but the typical unsigned rhinestone brooch of the same vintage will sell for $35-$50.00. If you are considering selling a jewelry item, it’s prudent to get it valued. Do not assume things are worthless as some hobby or style of art may be worth thousands of dollars. Talk to an appraiser before discarding items for fear of overlooking something of value.
Do Not Ignore The Attic And Basement
Over the years, some truly priceless artifacts have been uncovered in the homes of unwitting residents. Here’s one item of some value that was almost overlooked. An ‘old box’ that was more than it seemed. A battered-looking wooden box, used as a TV stand by an elderly gentleman, was discovered upon his death when his house was being cleared out. This unassuming item turned out to be an ancient Japanese Mazarin Chest. The Mazarin Chest was one of the finest pieces of Japanese export lacquer. It was worth thousands. No one in the family knew where it came from. So be sure and check all the nooks and crannies of the home.
Is The House Full Of Vintage And Antique Pieces?
Do not try to price those items yourself or have a friend help you. Most estate sale companies will do a free consultation, so if you can get their expertise, it will be well worth your time and energy. It pays to have someone knowledgeable during the selling process. You will usually get more from a collector who falls in love with a vintage piece than from a dealer who needs to make a profit after buying from you.
Remember You May Also Be Dealing With Debt From The Estate
According to the Federal Trade Commission, in the U.S., family members of the deceased are not responsible for paying the deceased’s debts. If there’s not enough in the estate to cover the debt, the remainder goes unpaid. The deceased person’s estate is responsible for paying any unpaid debts. The estate’s finances are handled by the personal representative, executor, or administrator. That person pays any debts from the money in the estate, not from their own money. If you were a co-signer of a debtor or are the spouse of the deceased and have legally signed for the debt, you are responsible for the debt.
After a loved one passes away, it can feel daunting to go through and sort their belongings. Be sure to take good care of yourself and enlist help for anything you may need during this time.
Tom Reese has 20+ years’ experience in helping his clients sell their homes for a price that sells and makes them a profit. Tom has helped his clients buy and sell property in every neighborhood in Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati.
About Tom Reese
Helping my clients attain their dreams has been the foundation of my success. With my strong attention to customer service, I have earned my clients continued support and referrals. Put my enthusiasm and dedication to work for you!
Call Tom anytime at