In Part I, we talked about how to get started in handling a family home when an aged parent dies or will not be returning to that home.
The second step is addressing the contents of the home specifically and again it is “nice” to share and share alike until someone gets overly greedy or aggressive and then we must revert to the first step. Having family members able to choose, or at least receive, some family memorabilia is helpful both from an emotional standpoint but also in terms of getting the house emptied out. Once the family has taken things they want or items have been distributed in accordance with the owner’s wishes, then you can choose to “do it yourself” or hire it done. DIY means handling each item and distributing it to the trash, recycling, donations or even an estate sale. Hiring it done means once you have looked things over and are satisfied, then someone else will handle the disposal. This is often the chosen approach because of the time commitment necessary to do this right.
Obviously we have left the question of repairs, deferred maintenance, improvements and the like to that point in time where the house is pretty well empty. This stage is critical to get the best price at a sale of the property. It also is a good stage to reach even if you are keeping the home since the contents (and their valuation) should be a part of any decision on how to proceed and having the contents handled and distributed makes that part much simpler. If a sale is called for, a realtor is your best bet to get the best price and the least aggravation on your part. Their expertise is usually worth the cost, particularly where the house is located far from your home and you cannot be there throughout the time the house may be on the market.