Preparing to Sell a House of a Decease Family Member

Category: Our Blog

Preparing to Sell a House of a Decease Family Member

By Joe McKnight

Young Johnston & Associates, Inc.


Preparing a house for sale after a family member dies can be a very emotional and stressful time.  The first and hardest thing to do is detach yourself from the situation.  Remember your loved one is gone and you have to move on.


Next step is to change all the locks to the home as you have no idea who may have been given keys.  It is necessary to secure the house from unwanted entry and protect the house and its contents.  Also have all the mail forwarded.  This will allow you to see that all creditors and taxes are kept current until the house is sold.  It will also allow you to cancel all subscriptions.  Bank statements will come alerting you of any checking or savings accounts you may not be aware of.  Homeowners’ insurance statements will come enabling you to keep coverage on the house until it is sold. Check with the Agent listed on the policy, let him know the owner is deceased so that appropriate changes can be made to the policy.


Do a thorough inventory of the home.  In doing so look for all financial documents and valuables.  In completing this search, look in every conceivable location, in and behind all drawers, under mattresses, in boxes under the bed, in crawl spaces and in the attic.  It is important to look for wills and updates, stocks, bonds and even cash.  Attempt to locate all Life Insurance policies, even check for life insurance benefits included in checking and saving accounts.  Secure all sensitive documents.


Continue to pay all Mortgage and utility bills and keep all utilities turned on.  Notify all creditors and banks of the family member’s passing.  Make sure all account authorized users are updated and cancel all credit cards.


Sort all belongings into three categories.  First keep items to be claimed by family members or to be sold with the house.  Second pick out items to be donated or sold.  Finally select items to be thrown away.  In the last two categories do not dispose of either group until family members have a chance to check them out.  One person’s trash could be another person’s treasure.


Finally in preparing the house for sale have a yard sale of items of value that were not selected by family members.  If furniture is worn or not serviceable, get rid of it as it may decrease the selling price.  The same is true with window blinds, curtains and drapes.  A bare window may look better than one with worn out coverings.  Remove all wall hangings and portraits.  Remove all worn carpet, replace any missing light fixtures and thoroughly clean the home and grounds.


Disposing of deceased family member’s property can be very a very emotional and trying time.  Remember to think with your Head as well as with you Heart.



Joe T. McKnight, LUTCF

Young Johnston & Associates, Inc.

119-A West Williams Street

Abbeville, AL 36310


334-585-5210 Phone

334-714-5210 Cell

334-585-1514 Fax


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