Selling Inherited Personal Property

Selling Inherited Personal Property

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Inheritance is a complex process, one that many will seek out Legal Counsel to guide them through, whether or not there’s a Will in place. There are several moving parts to manage when a family loses a loved one; especially if there are many heirs and/or assets. So, in the midst of grieving, there are many important decisions that need to be made pretty quickly, including the decision of maintaining and/or selling inherited personal property. I know this isn’t the most joyful topic to read about, but I promise you, there is relief at the end, so be sure to read all the way through.


In losing a loved one, not only are you emotional, unhappy, upset and suffering, but enter in anxious, distraught, confused, concerned, stressed, troubled, anguished, even bothered throughout this process. And for those around you, most are simply at a loss for words, as they seek to offer you comfort and a sense of peace. And, ugh, trying to find the words in response!

And if that’s not enough, there’s the personal belongings and the ‘who gets what’ conversation no one looks forward to. Knowing that there could be some discrepancy and disdain among family members adds additional stress to the family.

So the process goes something like this:

  1. Mourning
  2. Responding to family and friends
  3. Seeking counsel (legal and/or emotional)
  4. Managing financial aspects
  5. Distribution (if a Will in place) of Assets
  6. Dividing/sharing personal property (if not in Will)


Financial Burden

So many pesky details continue to sneak in to your grieving process … will I have to pay taxes or Capital Gains on the property I inherited; are there any outstanding bills or liens on the property; how will I pay a second mortgage payment; where will I get the money to pay to keep the utilities on until the house sells; how am I going to afford the repairs needed; where am I going to find the time to maintain the house for showings; what am I going to do with all the stuff in the house that no one takes or wants; how am I going to pay the outstanding medical bills and funeral costs; where do I go to find answers? HELP!

I know what you are going through. My husband and his family recently laid his mom to rest. And the process is long, tedious and depressing. Thankfully, I have a lot of administrative and legal experience, having been a paralegal for 16 years, so I was able to spare the family much time, distress and expense during the process. But that doesn’t take away the emotional angst when going through mom’s things.

This is typically where the counsel of an attorney is a big help. They can help you determine each and every item that needs to be paid prior to the distribution of the estate. Typically, they will have their Title company ‘run title’ to determine any outstanding liens on the property that need to be resolved prior to being able to sell assets. (house, car, camper, etc.) You can get a handle on what is outstanding yourself, or, wait until you put it on the market, as Buyers lender will want them to ‘run title’ prior to allowing the purchase. However, if there are outstanding liens, you may lose your Buyer unless it can be resolved in a timely fashion. So it’s best to know in advance.

The House

Getting a loved one’s property prepared to put on the market can be very sensitive. With 6 heirs to my husband’s mom’s estate, it is difficult to get everyone on the same page, let alone the same timing. So I have to do my best to understand the need to be patient and empathetic throughout the process. And I take the position of mediator as much as possible to prevent disputes in the family.

Thankfully, their mom had the house paid off and put in a trust for the kids, so there is no outstanding mortgage. But that is not the case for everyone. You may find yourself owing a substantial mortgage or other liens against the property and now own a home that is in less than perfect condition with much debt. In this situation, you may need to pursue what is called a “short sale” in order to sell the house and resolve any outstanding liens on the property.

Short Sale

A short sale is a sale of real estate in which the net proceeds from selling the property will fall short of the debts secured by liens against the property. In this case, if all lien holders agree to accept less than the amount owed on the debt, a sale of the property can be accomplished. (Wikipedia)

Lien holders may include the bank where the mortgage is held; the township for taxes owed; the school district for taxes owed; contractors who are owed funds for previous repairs; outstanding loans (home equity, car, etc), outstanding utility bills; attorneys for their services; or anyone who the deceased owed money too that has not been paid and puts a lien on the property for payment. This means that, should the house sell, the funds will be disbursed to the lien holders before the family of the estate. So if the money owed is more than the house is worth, a short sale may be in order.

In the instance of a Short Sale, it could be a significant amount of time before getting the house sold. The use of a short sale negotiator can help get the job done quicker and the Buyer is typically responsible for paying the negotiator. So you’ll want a Buyer willing to pay for such (3% or $3,000, whichever is higher), and/or a Realtor that has familiarity with the process.



No matter what is owed, it certainly stands to reason that the longer a property is held, the more it is going to cost. There are several holding costs involved in keeping a house in good condition throughout the selling process. The first of which should be obtaining a special insurance policy for vacant homes. This will cover any damages that may be caused by intruders (squatters, teens partying, vandals, etc) during vacancy.

The utilities will need to be paid monthly (heat, electric, water, trash removal, lawn care, etc). Especially in the winter, as you need to be sure to leave the heat on in areas that go below 50° at night in order to prevent the pipes from bursting and causing flooding in the home. (this happens more often than you may think!)

Of course, you can winterize all things water as well, but that is less attractive during housing tours. If you are showing the house, it is certainly more appealing and less distracting if there is heat and electricity during the tour. Especially because people want to test things to make sure they work, like heat, air conditioning, sinks, toilets, appliances, etc.


The landscape is also a pesky item that needs upkeep in order to remain appealing to buyers. You’ll either have to spend your time or your money to pay someone for their services to mow, rake, shovel, garden, etc. throughout the sale process to maintain the (curb) appeal.


Housekeeping is something that not everyone thinks about while selling a vacant house. You would be surprised the little critters that are just waiting to make your house their home! So you’ll want to be sure to have a housekeeper go through and clear dust bunnies, cobwebs, spiders, rodent feces, etc. that often appear over time. Or, take the time to do so on your own.


Should your family decide they don’t want to keep some of the household items, who will manage how the remaining goods are removed? There are professionals that will come in and help you to separate what to keep, what will sell, what to donate and what to toss. And they’ll even help you to hold an Estate Sale for a portion of the proceeds for a percentage of the profit. This is a great help for so many families that just do not have the time or energy to take on such a task on their own.

Seems easy enough, but this becomes a pretty significant issue for those whose family member may have been a hoarder or ‘collector’. Dumpsters and the labor to fill those dumpsters can be a pretty significant burden financially. Calling in 1-888-CHUCKIT or the Junk King can be a serious hit to the wallet that can’t wait until you sell the house. (but worth every penny so you don’t have to do the work yourself)

Finalizing the Details

Now that you have wrapped your head around the fact that your loved one has departed, sought Counsel, paid some debtors, divided personal property and had your estate sale, it becomes time to decide what to do with the larger assets … like the car, the house, the vacation home or timeshare, the camper, etc. These items are typically sold separately and the funds collected are entered into an estate escrow or bank account to later be split between the lien holders and/or decedents. This often takes much time and parting with each item can become a stressor; letting go of your loved one, over and over again, one piece at a time.


YES! Now don’t get me wrong. Some people will want to go through most of this process, as they choose to let go more slowly and methodically. It is almost a form of denial, in that the longer they hold on to their loved one’s personal property, the longer they can deny that they are actually gone or hold on to their memories.

What we need to remember is that our loved one wants us to move forward and find joy in the memories, not live in sorrow in the past. We don’t need to hold on to every single item they ever owned in order to remember them. They will live on in our hearts forever. But I certainly understand wanting to hold on to something. I have one item of each of my loved ones that have departed that, when I look at it, brings them to mind. And I love that it makes me think of them. Life goes on and we don’t want to forget, but busyness gets in the way. So having a reminder now and again is sweet and healthy. But we surely don’t need to be surrounded by the past, which simply ways us down and keeps us stagnant.

Moving On

Now there are some of us that just want to be done with the details and get on with the memories. That’s where I fit. Holding on to the past just keeps me sad and in need of closure. I want to think of good times, love, joy, happiness and surround myself with those thoughts. Not thoughts of how much clutter is surrounding me or selling inherited personal property. And that is true even if the items are not in your own house! Just knowing there is the loved ones home filled with his/her things is sad and overwhelming every time I think about it. It’s like we are not letting them, our ourselves, rest in peace. I have a need to let go of things that keep me bogged down and in a place of depression and sadness. I am an all or nothing person; a ‘getter done’ type. Let’s get through it and move forward.

How can you ‘get it done’ in one fowl swoop? Call me … or any redeveloper. We can help you to let go of what is holding you to the past, either one step at a time or all at once, whichever makes you most comfortable. Now, some folks think we are just scam artists trying to get one over on the family going through a loss. But I can tell you that I know NUMEROUS redevelopers (often known as ‘flippers’) that are kind, empathetic, understanding and truly want to help people. I am one of them and surround myself with like-minded people.

Yes, we would like for you to sell your loved one’s house to us so that we can bring it back to life and resell it to another family. And, yes, we would like to get paid for our efforts. We are business men and women that, of course, need to make money. But it is not our intention to make it a burden to those in mourning. We explain every detail needed to help you to get through the entire process, whether step-by-step or in one fowl swoop. And there are four (4) options to get you there:

  1. If you need to go through the steps, we can help you do that. Now, your attorney will handle the financials and such. But if you need to manage a short sale to pay debtors, we will walk you through it with your attorney. We’ll even take care of arranging the estate sale. Often, when everything is laid out in categories and rooms, things may pop up that you may have forgotten about, so you can just come by the sale to see if you want anything further. If you want items taken to storage or moved to your home, we can make those arrangements. You just point and tag any item, let us know where to bring it and consider it done. Plus, we’ll arrange for dumpsters (if needed) to be placed so you can discard any unusable, unsellable, unwanted items. Then, we will prep your loved one’s house, including staging, and put it on the market for sale ‘as is’, if in sellable condition. Or, purchase the property from you outright ‘as is’.
  2. If you are one that finds it easy to let go of material things, we can literally purchase the property ‘as is’, with any unwanted contents remaining inside for us to deal with. We will pay you CASH even if you want to leave the car or camper sitting in the driveway. We’ll take care of everything so you don’t have to lift a finger! We’ll take responsibility for taking things to charity, moving items into storage, renting dumpsters, cleaning, repairing, refreshing and more. You just take what you want from the property and leave the rest to us. Done and done.
  3. Or maybe you are one that wants to go through the entire process, including the repairs and redesign, but you are not sure how to do that with little risk. We can work with you, partner, so to speak, to revive the property to today’s market standard so you can bring your loved one’s home back to life and pay it forward to another deserving family. You simply hold the mortgage of the estate (if any), we bring funds to the table for the rehab, we stage the property post-rehab and we split the increased value of the home, after expenses. We’re happy to work with you to get it done quickly and properly. And you can find joy in letting go when you see the faces of the new family that will bring life back into the home.
  4. Then there is the option of revitalizing the home to move into with your family. We’re happy to help! Again, we bring the funds to the table for the redevelopment and you simply refinance post renovations.

We are the key to your property solution! No matter which direction you choose, we can help you get through it quickly, with little to no money out-of-pocket and with less stress! Let us take the brunt of the burden, allowing you to mourn and spend time with family and friends enjoying beautiful memories.

I know it’s hard and it’s a process none of us want to go through. But it is certainly inevitable that we will all be in the place at some point. And decisions will need to be made. We are here to help you, no matter what decision you make.

Serving the Greater Capital Region of New York



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