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The challenges of selling a parent's home after they're gone

Did your elderly parent insist on remaining in their home until their death, surrounded by the furniture, trinkets and other items they could never bring themselves to clear out? If so, you may be facing the daunting task of cleaning out that home and selling it.

If your parent had an estate plan that allows for the sale of the home and the property inside it, and you were named the executor, at least you have the authority to deal with the house. However, you've got some big decisions to make. It's a good idea to bring in an experienced realtor to advise you on things like whether it's better to put money into making much-needed repairs and improvements or sell the house as-is for a lower price.

It's also essential to limit access to the house. This can be difficult when it means keeping siblings out who want to look for treasured childhood toys and mementos.

If your parent left certain items to you, your siblings or others in their will, those need to be retrieved before the house goes on the market. However, as the executor, you should be the one to do that. By keeping other family members informed of what's going on, however, you can reduce the chances that they'll feel left out and possibly suspicious about your actions.

It's essential to be aware of the tax consequences of the home's sale for those who inherit the proceeds. Your estate planning attorney can offer advice or at least refer you to a tax advisor.

Selling your parents' home can be an emotionally difficult experience -- especially if you grew up there, and it carries many memories for you. That's one reason it's wise to have professionals advising you who can look at the transaction objectively.

If your parent or both parents are still alive, it can be difficult to ask them about their estate planning. You don't want to seem like you're concerned about your inheritance. However, it's in their best interest to have an estate plan in place, They can help ensure that their wishes are carried out after they're gone and save their loved ones confusion and stress. An experienced estate planning attorney can help them through the process.

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