When a beloved family member passes away, it can be a turbulent time for you emotionally. Not only do you need to deal with losing a loved one, but also, you might need to handle the deceased’s affairs. This could mean the sale of a family home. So what do you need to know?

Can you sell a deceased estate without probate?

Probate is a legal document that allows the executor of a deceased estate to manage the affairs of the deceased in accordance with the legal Will of the deceased. An executor is the person or company appointed by the deceased in the Will to carry out the directions in the Will.

If you are the executor, you can sell a property only after probate is granted.

The process is relatively simple if the deceased has left a Will that names an executor. Then he or she applies to the court for probate to verify the Will. If the deceased didn’t leave a Will, then a family member needs to apply to the court for a Letters of Administration document and this process can take some time.

What are the pitfalls in selling a deceased estate?

Where there are multiple family members involved, it’s vital that the sales process is as transparent as possible. The executor should engage a real estate agent as soon as possible (preferably one who’s experienced in selling deceased estates) or engage a valuer to do a full valuation Importantly, the property you’re selling might have been your childhood home, full of memories. Selling this home can be a daunting task in itself.

Should I renovate a deceased estate home?

You’ll normally need to make minor repairs: get dripping taps and squeaky doors fixed, tidy and mulch the garden and pressure clean the exterior (including the roof). Part of the appeal of a deceased estate is that it’s a much-loved home so it should look lived in. However, you could also get the home styled professionally so it looks fresher.

What is the best sales method for selling a deceased estate?

Due to the complexities of selling a deceased estate, often the sale is left until the last minute, and that means an auction.

By the ‘last minute’, we refer to the last months of the period during which you can sell a deceased estate family home and not incur capital gains tax. This is normally two years unless you’ve applied for and received an extension.

Auctions are more transparent for the executor, meaning there’s little room for dispute as to the ultimate value and sale price of the home.

The sale is public, absolute and unconditional. All the offers are out in the open at the auction, which is held after a thorough four-week exposure to the marketplace. There are no advantages to a particular buyer or comebacks / repercussions (sometimes from a disgruntled / estranged family member/friend/associate) who might claim they didn’t have a fair opportunity to buy the property. (This can sometimes happen with private treaty sales.) As agents, we want the best result for the vendor and all buyers have equal opportunity to buy the deceased estate at the auction.

Removing excess possessions

Over a lifetime, we accumulate possessions that mean a great deal to us. Disposing of a lifetime of memories is not just difficult; it can be paralysing. We recommend you seek help from a friend or other helpers who don’t have an emotional attachment to cherished items.

So you don’t become overwhelmed by the task, use the declutter process of three distinct piles: One for items you’re going to keep, one for items you’re giving away or donating, and a ‘not sure’ pile. For charity donations, keep a container by the front or back door and deposit items as you work your way through the home.

Charities in the Sutherland Shire that accept donations include the Salvos at President Avenue, Sutherland, the Smith Family in Hurstville, plus several St Vincent de Paul shops in nearby suburbs.

Last but not least, you’ll find the process easier with the right real estate agent by your side.

Can we help with advice on downsizing?

Having navigated the home sale and downsizing process not only for our real estate clients but also for members of our own family, it’s an area in which we’ve amassed a wealth of knowledge. So don’t hesitate to seek out our help – no obligations.

Free downsizers guide

Michael & Rhiff Larkings

As a specialist team, focused on Caringbah South and the surrounding suburbs, we've been providing real estate services for over 20 years. With numerous real estate awards to our name, we're in the top echelon of licensed real estate agents in the Sutherland Shire. We regularly set new street, suburb and area sales records. Most importantly, we understand that real estate is a ‘people’ business where the development of relationships and trust, with both our clients and purchasers, is vital to achieving your all-important sales result.

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Suites 4 & 5, 305 Kingsway,
Caringbah 2229 NSW Australia