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Letting Go – Inherited Real Property

“A man’s Self is the sum total of all that he CAN call his, not only his body and his psychic powers, but his clothes, and his house, his wife and children, his ancestors and friends, his reputation and works, his lands, and yacht and bank-account.”
–          William James

inherited real propertyIf that statement was true a hundred years ago, and it was, it is even more accurate today. So, in a very real way, inherited property is part of who the decedent was and who s/he wanted to be, and letting go of that property is a very difficult thing to do.

In nearly all cases, inherited property has a much higher emotional value than financial value, at least to the current owners. Every inherited house is different, but the typical one needs some work, hasn’t been updated in decades, and is not in a high-mobility area, so the financial value/emotional value scales are even more titled. How can your testamentary documents help your children through this time?

A Plan for the Future

To reduce this emotional burden on heirs, it’s important for current owners to develop a plan before they die. Some components include:

  • A Specific Will: Instead of simply designating property shares, the testator (person who makes the will) can typically make additional designations about any inherited real property, such as a preferred method for selling or otherwise disposing of it.
  • Trust: Consider placing the house in a separate trust and designating a trusted realtor as the successor trustee.
  • Proposed Timeline: No matter how old they are, your children still count on you for guidance. Create an outline of things to do and people to call, to keep things moving along emotionally.

A probate attorney in either Massachusetts or New Hampshire can help you prepare these and other documents.

Specificity is the name of the game when making this portion of your estate plan, because vague language and gaps invite probate litigation fights that no one really wants. Lay out the plan as completely and as thoroughly as possible. A presale plan helps the sale go more smoothly.

To get the ball rolling on an inherited real property sale, contact us today.

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