Estate Sales - How To Sell Your Loved One’s Home

By The A-Team | Jul 21, 2020 | Fort McMurray - Seller Advice

Have you recently lost a loved one and found that you will be responsible for selling their property in Fort McMurray

Or has a loved one just moved into assisted living or palliative care?

Either, way, are you unsure where to start? It can be a daunting process.

This article contains all the information you’ll need to get started in either situation.

First of all, let me start out by saying that I am so sorry for your loss. I understand that this is a time when you might rather be mourning the loss of your loved one, than dealing with business matters. Hopefully, the information in this blog will enable you to focus on more important things.


We’ll start by introducing you to the legal side, then continue with your 7 steps towards a successful estate sale.


“Lawyer Up”


After the death of a loved one, it’s a good idea to involve a lawyer as soon as you are able so they can guide you on the legal process. As you’ll see below, until certain things are taken care of legally, our hands can be a bit tied on the real estate side. As REALTORSⓇ, we can’t give legal advice, but we do regularly recommend high-quality lawyers (in Alberta). There is a process that you may have already heard about, called probate. Basically, it gives someone or some people permission to list & sell the home (among other things).


“In Alberta, a Grant of Probate is the Surrogate Court's certification that the Will submitted by the Executor meets the formal requirements of a Will as set out in the Wills and Succession Act and is the last Will executed by the deceased. The Grant of Probate gives the Executor the authority to deal with the deceased's property and administer/distribute the deceased's Estate in accordance with the Will.” - Kirk Montoute LLP. 

There can be a strong motivation on the part of one, more or all family members to list and sell the home, sometimes for financial, but more often for emotional reasons. But the reality is that a legal process needs to be followed carefully:


“Because it can take weeks to receive a Grant of Probate from the courts, and because executors are usually under pressure from beneficiaries to wrap up the estate quickly, executors are often in a hurry to sell the house or other property in the estate. This is particularly true if the market is in the seller's favour at the time. They don't always want to wait until they've received the paperwork from the court. Unfortunately, the executor does have to wait for the actual court order.”  - Estate Law Canada


One silver lining is that there are things we can do on the real estate side while waiting for the probate period to end. Sometimes preparing for a sale can be very difficult emotionally, but it can also bring some peace. We’ve noticed it’s important to go at your own pace and consider the emotional journeys of everyone else that was involved in the deceased person’s life.


7 Steps To a Smoother Estate Sale


This process is rarely an easy one for the executor or beneficiaries, but with a little bit of planning & collaboration, you can at least help it be smooth...


Step 1: Who is the Executor?


Info: “An executor (or executrix) of an estate is an individual appointed to administer the estate of a deceased person. The executor's main duty is to carry out the instructions to manage the affairs and wishes of the deceased person's estate." - Investopedia 


A great place to start is to find out who the executor is for your loved one’s will. If they did not have a will, then the court will appoint a personal representative. If this has not yet been done, that’s ok - we can still get started on our end.


According to the CRA website:

“There may not be a will, or the will may not name an executor. In this case, a court will appoint an administrator to handle the deceased's estate. An administrator is often the spouse, common-law partner, or the next of kin.”

The executor will need to be involved with the decision making and signing the paperwork to list the property for sale, so it is best to involve them sooner than later if you are not the executor yourself. 


If you are not located here in Fort McMurray, then no problem - we can also help arrange everything on the ground for you here!


Step 2: Call a REALTOR®️

The next step is to call a local REALTOR®️ to find out if they are familiar with selling estate homes in the area. Any REALTOR®️ can sell the home for an estate, but you may want to find an agent who has experience doing so. This is your call! We help a lot of people with estate sales in Fort McMurray, so we are very familiar with the process and would love to help you with this important decision. We would be honoured to help you!


Step 3: Introduce the Property to Your REALTOR®️

You or someone who lives in the area will want to meet with the REALTOR®️ to show them the property. This can be done before or after you have cleared out the personal belongings of your loved one. Of course, it is best to have these items removed before listing, but the REALTOR®️ can still value the home with those items in the house. Don’t worry, we don’t ever need the property cleaned before we see it. ;)


Step 4: Find out the Value of the Property

The REALTOR®️ can give you a FREE evaluation so that you know what to expect when the time comes to sell. This value may change depending on how long it takes to get the house ready, but at least you will have some idea. This could be important if there are other beneficiaries, too, so everyone is on the same page.


Step 5: Get the House or Property Ready to List for Sale

This step involves cleaning the house out as much as possible or removing equipment, tools, etc from acreage-type properties. Selling the property vacant will be best as it will be depersonalized (buyers will be able to imagine their own belongings in the house). Once you are close to having the house ready, then be sure to let your REALTOR®️ know so they can prepare the listing paperwork and book the photographer.


Step 6: Sign the listing paperwork with the REALTOR®️

This part is easy! All you will need to show us is: 
  1. a copy of the death certificate
  2. the part of the will that shows you are the executor (or the court filing that shows you are the personal representative)
  3. your photo ID. 
Your knowledgeable REALTOR®️ will go through all the paperwork in detail so you understand what you are signing.


Step 7: Negotiate the Best Offer for You

Your REALTOR®️ will help with this, so need to worry! For most people, they will want to maximize the sale price. If this isn’t the case for you, then it is best to tell your REALTOR®️ so we can help you negotiate the best offer for you. I have had clients who prioritized a quick possession date over maximum sale price, but I can only fight for you if I know what your priorities are!        




I hope you found this helpful! Please feel free to reach out to me if you want more information or if you’d like to get started. We will look out for your best interests and help with any questions that come up along the way.


Take care! -Breanna

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The A-Team

The A-Team is an accomplished real estate team, made up of Tom & Breanna Albrecht, with RE/MAX First. The A-Team serves buyers and sellers in both Fort McMurray, and Calgary. Drop them a line at 780.804.4800...