When a parent, spouse or loved one dies and he or she owned a home, there’s a lot for the survivors to do in addition to the very real and painful process of mourning. I have been through this with my own parents (and their house in Saratoga), a great aunt in Willow Glen, and many clients in San Jose, Los Gatos, Palo Alto, and elsewhere in Silicon Valley.
Death, Dying, & Real Estate: Where to begin?
In terms of settling the estate, it is wise to first speak with an attorney and tax professional about the property to find out what is required and adviseable.
You might recieve very different guidance depending on if there was a will, or how ownership was held. They will try to help you to legally minimize capital gains and estate taxes and can advise you on topics such as when might be the best time to sell vis a vis the tax liability. This is extremely important and it can be very expensive to not seek professional council on this point, so I strongly recommend that you or other beneficiaries discuss everything with the attorney or accountant prior to electing whether (or when) the home will be sold, rented etc., even in the short term.
Try not to wait too long before speaking to a tax or legal professional, as there may be a timeline or deadlines for you to consider in regards to settling the estate. I have some wonderful people I can suggest if you would like a referral.
First Steps, and how can a real estate professional help?
Something you’ll need for the lawyer and CPA or other tax professional is a valuation of the home as of the date of death, whether or not there is a surviving spouse or co-owner. You can obtain this by hiring a licensed residential real estate appraiser who will do an appraisal for you. Alternatively, you may be able to engage a real estate licensee (salesperson) to do a competitive market analysis or comparative market analysis (CMA), which would provide the probable buyer’s value for the property. (more…)