How to Sell a House when Someone Dies

“How to Sell a House in Queens when Someone Dies”, by George Herrera, Realtor and Co-Owner of the Queens Home Team at Keller Williams Realty. 

We do a lot of property sales related to estates here in Queens, and while they can very sad and sensitive situations, they can also be some of the most fulfilling transactions for us because we get to help family members through a very rough time in their lives. Most of the time we are meeting with sons, daughters, or heirs of the decedent(s) and they are usually still grieving as they are trying to get things in order. In Queens, these sales can get somewhat complicated depending on the situation and probate/administration status. On top of that, many times the heir(s) who are handling everything live outside of Queens so that can also make it very burdensome and overwhelming. Whatever the situation, our goal is always to take the reigns and handle as much as we can for them so that they can grieve and rest knowing that their family member’s estate is being taken care of as desired. For this reason, we set out to create a guide on how to sell a house when someone dies. If you have been placed with the responsibility of handling an estate sale for a deceased loved one, this will help you make sure that you have all your ducks in a row.

The first thing you have to know in these situations is that In New York State, the Surrogate’s Court decides what happens to a person’s property when that person dies. The judge in Surrogate’s Court is called the Surrogate, and the person who died is called the Decedent. That person’s property is called the estate. When a person dies and leaves a Will then they died testate. If the person died without leaving a Will, then they died intestate.

Estate Proceedings

There are three different kinds of estate proceedings in Surrogate’s Court, however, one of them is for descendants who had personal property of $30K or less so for the purposes of this article we will focus on probate and administration proceedings.


  • If the Decedent had a will, then you file for probate.
  • If the Decedent didn’t have a will, then you file for administration.




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