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How to Deal With Your Inherited Home

How to Deal With Your Inherited Home

January 16, 2024

Dealing with an inherited home is a complex subject, and there are several complicated issues to resolve. A web search for “selling inherited property” returns more than 10 million results. A glance down the first page or two shows some of the issues:

  • Do You Pay Capital Gains Taxes on Property You Inherit?
  • What Taxes Are on an Inherited House?
  • If You Inherit a Home Do You Qualify for the $250,000 Home Sale Tax Exclusion?
  • What to Do When You Inherit Your Parent’s House, Home Inheritance Issues, and on and on.

Additionally, it is not uncommon for a person selling an inherited home to have a sentimental attachment to the property, with the sale being the result of a recent death in the immediate family. This adds an emotionally overwhelming component to the transaction.

Because of continuing property ownership obligations such as property taxes, insurance, utility bills, household and grounds maintenance—in addition to any issues with the settlement of the estate—a rapid sale is often necessary. Getting a loved one’s house ready for the market can be anxiety-provoking, emotional, and stressful. It likely includes clearing out once-treasured belongings and depersonalizing the rooms.

Then there is the financial cost of making necessary updates to attract buyers. Sometimes heirs must deal with liens or hidden problems in the house structure or systems (i.e., electric, plumbing, and gutters), and there may be disagreements among beneficiaries about the sale price, or whether to sell at all.

Family members drag their feet, distracted by images of growing up in the home, preventing them from taking appropriate action. They can’t let go.

Everyone takes the time they need to deal with the passing of a loved one. Sellers in this situation need to take the appropriate steps to learn the market, educate themselves, and have a reliable real estate agent and tax attorney or Certified Public Accountant (CPA), an empathetic party who is there to help.

This little book is meant to offer some proven tips that can help owners of inherited property approach the issue in a structured manner, with fewer problems and more satisfactory results for all stakeholders concerned. Here, we will discuss the different aspects of splitting the property with family members and the best practices involved.


No matter if you are a single heir or one of multiple heirs to the property, selling it as quickly as possible will save money, time, stress, and the tiring effort involved in the settlement process. There are several benefits to selling the inherited property. For example, in some cases, along with inheriting property, the heirs end up inheriting unexpected commitments and difficulties with legal and financial implications. Every situation when someone inherits and then sells a home is typically different from each other.

For example, if it is discovered there are environmental concerns or the mortgage is “underwater” (meaning the mortgage balance is more than the home is worth), heirs may even choose not to accept the home at all, allowing it to go into foreclosure. Those who do not want inherited property should consult a lawyer promptly, as disclaimer paperwork will likely have to be filed.

Traditional home sales methods are a perfectly good option if you find that there are no outstanding mortgages and the property is in good shape and does not require major repairs or cleaning to sell. If you can easily afford any necessary repairs and cleaning while handling the selling process, then you can safely choose to sell an inherited property just as you would any other house.

This is not to say that selling the property will always be complication-free, but even when issues arise, it may still be worth it to persist with the sale. When there are siblings or family members who share the property with you as legal heirs, there might be disagreement about how the settlement should proceed. Therefore, selling the property could save you the aggravation of dividing a singular property between many hands. Once the property is converted to money, the money can be more easily distributed among the heirs. One concern that you do need to address is the amount of time required to sell the property, since it is uncertain when it may sell.

A short sale of the home can come to your aid if there are mortgage payments due which you are unwilling or unable to pay. If one or more heirs inheriting the property have an urgent need for cash, then a quick home sale is also a good option. Sometimes, you might receive some added tax benefits from selling the home. At times, you might also feel that you just want to get rid of the burdens an inherited home imposes by selling it quickly so you can get on with your life as smoothly as possible.

If the property is in a different city or state, assuming the responsibility of maintaining a vacant house can be a burden that you may not be prepared to endure. If the house goes to probate, even if there are no residents, the property must be maintained. The property taxes, insurance premiums, utilities, homeowners’ association fees, and other ongoing costs must be paid by someone.

Depending on how long the probate period lasts, families may need to pay for many months of maintenance, along with the legal fees and other expenses connected to owning and selling the property. At the end of the probate, you will also have to go through the effort and expenditure of repairing and selling the home. Under such conditions, if your benefits are lower than your commitments, it may be wisest to simply sell the home to investors.

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