Making decisions during such a difficult, emotional time can often feel like too much to take on. The process of selling a deceased loved one’s property may feel like you have extra obligations during a time when you just need to grieve. This guide was created with those dealing with bereavement in mind—a simple series of steps to take some of the stress out of an already challenging process.

Gather and organize all documents

After a homeowner passes away, you may not necessarily know where all the appropriate documents are. This first step may be a challenge if the former owner did not keep careful records, but the executor of the will often puts everything in order for you. Ensure that all documents are accounted for and in one accessible place. You may not need all of the following documents for the ownership to be transferred to you, but they are necessary to sell the house:

  • Mortgage information
  • Property deed
  • Proof of home warranty
  • Proof of homeowner’s insurance
  • Sale agreement from original purchase
  • Title report
  • Most recent property tax assessment and bills

Pay debt obligations and taxes

As the new homeowner, any debt obligations unfortunately fall to you. Square away mortgage payment, utilities, HOA fees, back property taxes, and any other unpaid obligations before you continue the selling process.

If debts are substantial, act with extra caution and be sure you have all applicable information before you decide how (and when) you will make payments. If what is owed on the house is higher than the property’s current value, you will be dealing with an upside down mortgage, which will drastically limit your options.

It is important to note that, depending on your situation and state of residence, you may also need to pay taxes after the home is sold, such as estate taxes, inheritance taxes, and capital gains taxes.

Prepare for sale

This step will most likely take the most emotional work, so be patient with yourself and only do as much as you can at one time. The house will need to be prepared for sale, and taking careful measures to inspect the home and remove personal belongings will likely help the house sell quickly. Here are a few things you might want to do to prep the house:

  • Pack up sentimental and valuable items you want to keep
  • Sell or donate furniture and items that you do not intend on keeping
  • Get rid of any trash and clean both the interior and exterior of the house
  • Inspect the home for any work that might need to be done, and schedule any needed repairs
  • Add minor touch-ups like new wall paint or care for an untended lawn
  • Stage the house for prospective buyers


Once the house is in its best condition, and all the paperwork and financial questions have been answered, it’s time to appraise the house. An independent certified appraiser can be found just through an internet search or by recommendation from your real estate agent or attorney.

Fill out a petition

You will need to obtain and fill out a petition to sell real estate from the court. File it with your appraisal and await approval for the sale.

Put it up for sale

Finally, the house can officially go on the market. Working with a realtor can ease the process by helping it go faster and more smoothly, and can help with informing decisions such as an appropriate selling price.

Accept an offer

If you receive an appropriate offer from a buyer, congratulations! After accepting, you can inform the buyer that your acceptance is conditional on court confirmation and proceed with the next step.

Petition the court for a hearing

There will need to be a hearing in order to confirm the sale. The typical hearing takes place between 20 and 40 days from your petition.

Arrange a 10 percent deposit

Before the date of the hearing, arrange for a 10% deposit on the purchase price from your buyer.

Advertise the sale

The point of the sale is to get the best price for the estate. By advertising the sale and the offered price in your local newspaper, you enable the open bidding process at the court hearing.

Attend the court hearing

Attend the hearing and bidding process. Bidding begins at the buyer’s original offer, and the buyer is still allowed to bid against any other parties. If there is a confirmation of a new buyer’s overbid, refund the original buyer’s deposit. If there is no overbidding and the court confirms the original buyer’s price, apply the deposit to the purchase price.

Close the contract

Close the contract and complete the sale, making sure all financing is enough to cover the property cost and the full amount goes in the estate fund.

Selling a property gained after the passing of a loved one can be emotionally draining and task intensive. A simple checklist can help you make sure you aren’t missing any steps in the process and you’re doing everything as efficiently as possible.

If you want to bypass some of these steps, and ease the selling process, consider selling direct for cash.  Ryan’s buying is a fast and painless option to sell your loved ones home. The team at Ryan’s Buying can get you a quote within 48 hours. You can discuss the offer with your family and determine if it is right for you.