Whether we’ve known for months that the end was on its way or if death comes without warning, the question we hear in our minds is “What next?” “ What do I do right now?” The best advice I can give you is that most decisions do not need to be made right now. When you’re experiencing the death of a loved one it is one of the most tender and vulnerable times of your life. The best thing is to take things slowly and breathe.
If death has happened at the hospital, you’ll be somewhat guided or gently prodded to call for a mortuary to pick up your loved one. If death has happened at home, you’ll need to call the mortuary for your loved one to be picked up. It’s always best to have this place chosen before the time of death, but that’s not always possible. You may want to reach out to family and friends to ask for a good mortuary or you may already have a place in mind. All you or someone has to do is call the mortuary and they will arrange for the pick up of your special person. You don’t need to do anything else today. Know that people in this profession do it because they want to honor your loved one and they will take very good care of them. Sometimes, it’s very hard for us to let go to let the body be taken away. It’s ok and even healthy to sit with your loved one and talk to them or just sit near them. There’s no right or wrong way to handle this transition. The best thing to remember is this is hard on you and the ones left behind, but the person who has died is not in pain or sad or hurt anymore.
There will be a lot of guidance over the coming weeks for you in terms of handling the services or other way that you choose to honor your loved one. It is the time after the service has been done and people go back to their lives and you are left wondering,
IS THERE A WILL?
You’ll want to look through any paperwork that you can find for a will or better yet, a Will and a Trust. You will need these documents to go forward with either keeping or selling the real estate owned by your loved one. These directions are very general, but iif your loved one had a Trust, you need not contact an attorney to move forward with the disposition of the house. If there is only a will or no will at all, a Probate attorney will need to be consulted.
WHAT DO I NEED TO PAY? It’s a strange way to think about it, but your loved one no longer has a credit rating, so don’t feel guilty if you cannot pay “everything”. The main things that you need to pay in regards to your loved one’s estate are the utilities in the house. You’ll need them for either selling or renting out the house. If the house has a mortgage, call the mortgage company and let them know that your loved one has died. If you plan to sell the house, let them know of your plans and they are usually quite understanding. If you cannot pay the mortgage, they will get their back payments when the Escrow closes. So, this might be a load off your mind. Additionally, credit card companies need to be notified, but credit cards are not secured debt, so unless you are on the card as well, you are not obligated to pay them. Call the credit card companies, on your loved one’s behalf and let them know that death has occurred. They may ask you if you’d like to make payments, but you are under no obligation to do so..
When you are ready to take action regarding the house, you may want to hire a Realtor l who will assist you with the disposition of your loved one’s belongings. Having been in this position with many clients, as well as when my own Mother died, I know how hard it is to take care of your loved one’s “things”. I offer an array of services to my clients in this position. I can do a full range of things such as:
Arrange an Estate Sale- I offer two types of sales.
A “low key” sort of Estate Sale where I actually do the sale myself. This is used for when what you want to get rid of is really just household types of stuff, furniture, etc that is not necessarily antique or of a high value. In this case, our goal is for the family to take the things that they wish to keep and then thru the Estate Sale, I can find “new homes” so to speak for other items and 100% of all monies made at the Sale goes directly to YOU.
My “Not so low key” Estate Sale is organized and put on by a professional Estate Sale company. Thru my association with King Richard’s Antique Center in Whittier, Ca I have access to some of the best Estate Sale professionals in California. They will identify and correctly price antiques, jewelry, art, etc. and advertise the sale to get the maximum exposure to bring the most profit to you. They do charge a percentage for their services. This is well worth it if your loved one had items that are unique or very valuable.
Additionally, I will “stage” the house, in order to show it in its best light. I usually do this with pieces that are left over after the sale or entirely with my own staging materials. Either way, this is part of my services and is not an “extra charge”.
I know that this is a hard time, whether the passing was last week or 5 years ago, “ selling the house” is an emotional time and I am here to help you at each step of the way.
My goal is to make this process as “stress free” as possible and to get you the most amount of money for your Real Property. I remember the friends and professionals who helped me when my mother died and I very much want to pay that back and help families who have been affected by this “transition”.
I find comfort in this poem, I hope you will too.
Death is Nothing at All
Death is nothing at all,
It does not count,
I have only slipped away into the next room,
Nothing has happened,
Everything remains exactly as it was,
I am I and you are you,
and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched,
Whatever we were to each other,
we still are,
Call me by the old familiar name,
Speak of me in the easy way in which you always used,
Put no difference in your tone,
wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow,
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes,
that we enjoyed together,
Play, Smile , Think of me,
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was,
let it be spoken without an effort,
without the ghost of a shadow upon it,
Life means all that it ever meant,
It is the same as it ever was,
All is well, nothing is hurt; nothing is lost,
One brief moment and all will be as it was before,
how we shall laugh at the trouble of parting,
When we meet again!
-Henry Scott Holland
Amy Brick is a Real Estate Broker, licensed to sell Real Estate in the state of California. Her advice is based on her own experiences. She is not an attorney. You should consult an attorney for additional guidance.
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