Secure the deceased's home

Immediately After a Death

Regardless of whether the deceased owned or rented their home, it's likely one of their most significant Assets, and must be managed properly after the death.

If the property is to be kept, make sure that it's secure from theft, and well maintained to ensure it keeps its value.

Maintaining value is important regardless of whether the home will be inherited by a Surviving Family member or Beneficiary, or sold when settling the Estate.

Exclamation_Icon.svgImportant Make sure not to give items from the home to beneficiaries or Next of Kin before the estate is settled during Probate.

Distributing assets before probate court authorization could lead to problems and disputes in the future, especially if a person takes an item they aren't entitled to.

Guides_Icon.svgRead More For more information about managing assets during probate, including distributing to beneficiaries and next of kin, see the "Settle the Estate" section of the Guide.

Helpful Tips


Depending upon whether access is needed right away, you can either speak with an attorney, or a police officer.

AutumnIcons_Providers.svgProviders If the surviving family is not allowed access to the deceased's home, it's best to speak with an Estate Attorney or Probate Attorney. They will need to assess the situation before recommending an appropriate remedy.

This is because the approach may depend upon whether the home was owned or rented, the way the deceased's Last Will and Testament is written, and if an executor has been named.

Exclamation_Icon.svgImportant However, if access is needed immediately, call local police to help arbitrate the dispute. Share the details of your relationship with the deceased with the arriving officers, and if possible, show them any documents that can prove the relationship, including a copy of the Death Certificate, if possible.

Officers may want to escort the surviving family and landlord into the rental property to ensure that nothing is damaged or taken.

Guides_Icon.svgRead More For more information about maintaining or selling property during probate, see the "Settle the Estate" section of the Guide.

Personal Considerations


Did the deceased own the property they lived in?


Make sure that it's kept secure and will continue to maintain value, regardless of whether the property will be kept, or sold.

Ensure that the home is secure Make sure the home is locked and few people have access

  • Unfortunately, empty homes can be a target for robberies, so changing the locks may be necessary, especially if many people previously had a key
  • If need be, install a security system or keep the current one activated, and don't hesitate to ask trusted friends or neighbors to help keep an eye out

Maintain value of the property Keep the property well maintained so it doesn't lose value

  • Continue ongoing maintenance and general upkeep that would prevent damage
  • For example, make sure that pipes don't freeze, maintain a lawn or garden, and forward mail to a different address so that it doesn't pile up
  • This is important no matter if the property will be inherited by a surviving family member or beneficiary, or be sold when settling the estate during probate

Guides_Icon.svgRead More For more information about maintaining or selling property during probate, see the "Assess the estate" section of the Guide.


Contact the property owner or landlord, and reach out to anyone else with whom the deceased may have been living.

Arrange to gain access to their home to ensure that the deceased's valuables and property are secure.

If the property will be kept

  • If the deceased's valuables will remain at the property for some time, it's important to continue to pay rent so they remain safe.
  • Continue to pay rent from the deceased's bank account until an Estate Bank Account is created
  • It's vital that any record of money spent from the deceased's bank account be kept, because this information will be needed when Settling the Estate in the future

Guides_Icon.svgRead More For more information about paying expenses from an estate bank account, see the "Open an estate bank account" section of the Guide.

If the property will be vacated

  • If the property is no longer needed, it's important to keep track of the deceased's Assets by cataloging them in an inventory spreadsheet while packing.
  • It may also be a good idea to take photos of everything so there’s a clear record of what was found in the home before it was emptied
  • This will not only help you stay organized, but help the surviving family and executor when they settle the deceased's estate

AutumnIcons_Providers.svgProviders If short-term storage is needed, make sure to keep records of the payment so that the estate can pay it back. Find storage facilities near you at the links below.

Guides_Icon.svgRead More For more information about managing the deceased's assets during probate, see the "Organize Estate Assets and Debts" section of the Guide.


If the deceased owned their home:

Make sure that it's kept secure and will continue to maintain value, regardless of whether the property will be kept, or sold.

Ensure that the home is secure Make sure the home is locked and few people have access

  • Unfortunately, empty homes can be a target for robberies, so changing the locks may be necessary, especially if many people previously had a key
  • If need be, install a security system or keep the current one activated, and don't hesitate to ask trusted friends or neighbors to help keep an eye out

Maintain value of the property Keep the property well maintained so it doesn't lose value

  • Continue ongoing maintenance and general upkeep that would prevent damage
  • For example, make sure that pipes don't freeze, maintain a lawn or garden, and forward mail to a different address so that it doesn't pile up
  • This is important no matter if the property will be inherited by a surviving family member or beneficiary, or be sold when settling the estate during probate

Guides_Icon.svgRead More For more information about maintaining or selling property during probate, see the "Assess the estate" section of the Guide.

If the deceased rented the property they lived in:

Contact the property owner or landlord, and reach out to anyone else with whom the deceased may have been living.

Arrange to gain access to their home to ensure that the deceased's valuables and property are secure.

If the property will be kept

  • If the deceased's valuables will remain at the property for some time, it's important to continue to pay rent so they remain safe.
  • Continue to pay rent from the deceased's bank account until an Estate Bank Account is created
  • It's vital that any record of money spent from the deceased's bank account be kept, because this information will be needed when Settling the Estate in the future

Guides_Icon.svgRead More For more information about paying expenses from an estate bank account, see the "Open an estate bank account" section of the Guide.

If the property will be vacated

  • If the property is no longer needed, it's important to keep track of the deceased's Assets by cataloging them in an inventory spreadsheet while packing.
  • It may also be a good idea to take photos of everything so there’s a clear record of what was found in the home before it was emptied
  • This will not only help you stay organized, but help the surviving family and executor when they settle the deceased's estate

AutumnIcons_Providers.svgProviders If short-term storage is needed, make sure to keep records of the payment so that the estate can pay it back. Find storage facilities near you at the links below.

Guides_Icon.svgRead More For more information about managing the deceased's assets during probate, see the "Organize Estate Assets and Debts" section of the Guide.

Actions to Take


Find a locksmith near you

Providers to Contact


Estate Attorneys Near You

Estate Attorneys can work with the appropriate authorities to gain access to the deceased’s home, if necessary. They help with every step of the estate administration process and advise you of any relevant laws.

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Storage Facilities Near You

Self-storage companies provide storage space for people’s belongings. They can provide a place to store the deceased’s valuables before distributing them to heirs while Settling the Estate during Probate.

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Immediately After a Death