For many people, the home that they live in is the biggest asset that they ever purchase in their life. As such, the family home may be the largest single asset that someone includes in their estate plan or last will.

If you are the executor of an estate and must deal with real estate, there are certain steps that can make it easier for you to manage the estate administration and to avoid common mistakes.

Secure the property early on

Family members often have specific intentions for real estate. People may try to move into the house as soon as someone dies and getting them out may prove to be more difficult than you might imagine. There’s also the risk of people with keys getting into the home and taking physical property like art or jewelry that should be part of the shared family estate.

Changing the locks is important, as is changing over the accounts for utilities and any mortgages on the property.

Get the home ready for a period of vacancy

Uninhabited properties can rapidly lose value, especially if they wind up targeted by vandals. Installing timed lights, ensuring that the lawn receives adequate maintenance and otherwise making sure that the property appears cared for and receives necessary upkeep is critical. Vacant properties can cost much more to insure and sitting vacant can also decrease how much money they command during a later sale.

If you have to sell, make sure the price is fair0

As executor or trustee, you have a fiduciary duty to make decisions in the best interest of the estate. Trying to get the best price possible for a house is important, as it may be the biggest contributing factor to the total value of the estate. Selling it quickly and with the right help can make a big difference when liquidating real estate as part of an estate.

Getting guidance when dealing with large assets can make estate administration less complex and legally challenging.