Have paperwork in order in case worst happens

Over this last year I have spoken repeatedly about being prepared to sell or buy a home.

There are many things you can do to prepare a house to sell, or prepare yourself to buy, but are you prepared to sell your home if you weren’t alive?

Throughout my Realtor career, some of the hardest conversations I have had were with survivors after a spouse or parent or even child has died. Once the shock wears off, the “business aspects” of selling the house must be addressed. If the family hadn’t prepared in advance, this can be a bigger shock than the survivors ever imagined.

I ask you now to take a look at your personal preparation to sell your home if you or your spouse dies or is not capable of making a decision to sell. Do you have a will? Have you taken that short amount of time to formally and legally write up a plan for your home and possessions if you should die? Do you have a living will in case you are injured and unable to make those decisions? Have you thought about a potential power of attorney or talked to someone you want to act as your executor?

Rather than try to explain further, I implore you to set an appointment with an attorney to make a plan “just in case.” Ask about a will, durable power of attorney, and living will. Plan for “What if.”

I have heard many people lament spending a few hundred dollars to engage an attorney, but I can assure you that the legal costs of dying without an attorney can easily be exponentially higher than you can imagine.

Remember that we can only help you sell your home if you can give “good title” to the buyer. If you are not alive to, or unable to sign and sell your home, in many cases it must pass through the probate court. In that case the court must make decisions you should have made, and many times they must rule according to the law even if that is counter to what you might have wanted.

Recently, a close friend and business client unexpectedly died without a will. This friend had many properties and business relationships that need addressed. He died without a will. For better than a year, the remaining family has to sort through the properties, engage multiple attorneys and appraisers to make the properties salable. A few hours of time with an attorney would have saved the family thousands of dollars and nearly one year.

Making sure you or your heirs are legally able to sell your home is between you and your attorney. Reach out now to make sure your family is able to carry out your wishes. Realtors work with attorneys, heirs and those using a power of attorney to sell homes every day. These people are there to carry out your wishes, so make sure they can by scheduling that appointment with your attorney now.

Darlene Mink-Crouse is the 2018 president of the Warren Area Board of Realtors.

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