An Estate Sale occurs when the owner of assets and real property passes away. An appointed Executor or Administrator is responsible person to settle the estate. The role of an Executor is an enormous task. The decedent has determined the chosen person is the most competent to handle the myriad of situations to effectively settle the estate.
If a person dies (testate) meaning they had a written will, the Executor is appointed by the will. If a person dies (intestate), without a will, an Administrator will be appointed by the State.
In the State of New Jersey, the Executor must deliver the will and death certificate to the Surrogates Office in the County where the decedent resided.
The Executor must wait 10 calendar days after the person's passing to filed at the Surrogates office.
At the Surrogates office, the Executor will receive a document called the "Short Certificate".
The Short Certificate is legal proof that the Executor is authorized to execute the at the behest of the estate, including the allocation of assets to heirs, property maintenance, and any outstanding debt obligations.
The Short Certificate can be brought to a Realtor. This allows the Executor to sign a listing agreement to effectuate the sale of the property.
As a priority item the Executor will submit the Short Certificate to a Bank to open an "Estate Account". Typically the Bank will assist in obtaining an EIN# for the Estate. The EIN supplants the decedents social security number in most cases. Sometimes the Bank will use the decedents social security number. All deposits and Estate related bills are paid from this account.
It is important to stay current with the bills related to the home. The mortgage still must be paid. Also the utilities and general maintenance – aka lawn care. Paying the bills should be done through the estate and NOT from the Executor's personal account!
Find All Financial Documents
Will – If there is a will, it will significantly simplify the distribution of the estate.
Investment documents – Stocks. Bonds, Annuities, and Pensions.
Bill Receipts – The Executor will need to quickly freeze the decedents credit and contact all creditors (banks and credit card companies).
Property Taxes – Paid on a quarterly basis.
Insurance documents – Life Insurance Policy (personal policy or business policy)
Homeowner’s policy – Lapses in insurance are common. It's critical to update the insurance carrier.
Bank Accounts – Gather all checking and savings accounts (CD's and Bonds).
Personal documents – Pictures, Diaries, Art-Work.
Any remainder documents should be destroyed to prevent identity theft.
Forward the Mail Delivery and Change the Locks
Be on the alert for thieves. The mail accumulating is a "tell-tale" signal to crooks. Also, over the years, it is typical that many people have keys to the house. Get the locks changed!
Get the House ready for sale.
Go through everything; the attic, basement, garage, all closets, drawers. Make three piles:
1. Keeper items
2, Items to donate
Sometimes its a good idea to get a bulk dumpster to make the process easier.
There may be items that were bequeathed in the will to specific family members. Coordinating the timely pick-up of these items will expedite the process.
If there are significant valuable possessions it may be wise to hold an estate sale of these personal effects Hiring a company to conduct the sale is quite common and usually maximizes value. Most estate sale companies for the person items work on a commission basis.
Get the advice from a top realtor. A trustworthy agent will let the Executor know what repairs would add value and will set proper pricing parameter, based on location and condition, to get maximum value.
Many estate properties are dated in certain ways (old wall paper and paneling... rugs etc)
Sometimes there's long term deferred maintenance. A good agent will be able to identify conspicuous defects and advise accordingly.
One of the best investments prior to sale is to get the house professionally deep cleaned. The return on this investment typically is big.
Pick the Right Real Estate Agent
A great agent will layout different scenarios and strategies to get the homes maximum value. Look for agents that have estate sale experience and who are full time. Real Estate is not a part time affair!
The State of new Jersey does not require disclosure of the decedents location at the time of death (even if it was in the house).
Tax Consequences of an Estate Sale
In the State of New Jersey there is no State Estate Tax (it has been eliminated). No New Jersey Estate Tax is imposed on the estates of decedents who die on or after January 1, 2018.
There could however be Inheritance Taxes depending on the of class beneficiary.
Get some legal advice when dealing with inheritance taxes. Know that there are Class A, B, C, and D Beneficiaries. A is of the least impact, and D is the most. The further familial relationship is away from the decedent, the likely greater inheritance tax liability.
Call with Any Questions. We have represented 100's of estate sales.