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Selling a parent's Florida home after they're gone

The death of a parent can be a devastating experience -- no matter how old you are or what a long, full life they had. However, many baby boomers and younger people are finding themselves responsible for dealing with their parents' homes after they're gone. Often, older people continue to live alone in the family home after their spouse dies rather than move to an assisted living facility.

If your parent had a will that named you and perhaps one or more of your siblings the executor(s) of their estate, that can help prevent delays and squabbles in probate court. If your parent designated that the home be sold and the assets from the sale divided among their heirs, you have clear directions.

However, there are still a lot of decisions to be made. One key decision that heirs often face is whether to put money into fixing up or even remodeling an older home to increase its sale value or sell it "as-is" for a lower price.

It's wise to hire a realtor who's familiar with the local housing market and regulations that an older home may not be in compliance with. It's typically best if you designate one family member to be the point of contact for that realtor so that they aren't getting conflicting directions.

It's also essential to control who has access to the home. This can be tricky if you've got multiple siblings and other family members who want to retrieve treasured items. This may require changing the locks.

It's a good idea to determine whether you're going to sell the furniture and other items in the home that haven't been bequeathed to heirs and to get those out of there sooner rather than later. Your realtor can help you arrange to sell these items to a company that handles estate sales.

There are a lot of crucial decisions to be made at a time when you and your family are dealing with the loss of a loved one. That's why it's important to rely on professionals who can provide objective advice.

You may also benefit from the guidance of an experienced attorney who knows Florida real estate laws -- particularly if you don't live here. Our real estate laws are unique in many ways, and running afoul of them can cause considerable trouble and expense later on.

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