Tips to Protect a Vacant, Probate Property

Janey Bishop
Janey Bishop
Published on May 14, 2021

If you are the executor or personal representative of an estate it may include real property that is currently vacant. You may think a neighbor will alert you if anything is out of the ordinary but they may not be close enough to see it. Some of the biggest risk to vacant properties comes from weather, criminal mischief or a small mishap that isn’t caught right away. The biggest culprit is a water leak but rodents can wreak havoc too. What starts out small can end up causing a lot of damage.

Here are some tips to avoid these issues:

Perform regular maintenance

Whether you personally perform regular work at the property or hire a service, it’s crucial to ensure maintenance is performed regularly. The regular presence of someone at the property serve as a deterrent to criminal activity, but will also help to spot issues before they become larger problems (such as pipe leaks, checking faulty smoke and CO2 detectors, weather damage, etc.).

Pay attention to fire prevention

Make sure the exterior and garage is free of paper, leftover paint and other fire-prone debris, as well as other combustible cleaning solvents or chemicals. And conduct any brush clearance early in the season.

Check the plumbing

 Water intrusion can be among the most costly forms of damage to a structure from water damage and potential resulting mold. Turn off and disconnect the ice maker because they run on an ongoing basis. Check under each sink and water source to make sure there is no slow drip. If you are in cold weather, such as the local mountains during winter, ensure the heat remains or pipes are emptied to avoid a pipe bursting.

Install a security system

Place security cameras around the property that you can monitor and utilize a home security system that alerts you to any serious events like fire or trespassers. A traditional security system will make a difference but Smart systems are now reasonably priced and the ability to check the property remotely could be well worth the price.

Utilize Lighting

Set up motion-activated exterior security lights, or utilize a lighting timer that keeps them on beginning at sunset. Install a timer on a few interior lights to appear as though someone as home. Make sure the lights are on in rooms that face the street, but close the windowcoverings so strangers can’t tell whether someone is home. Remember the basics: keep all doors, windows and gates locked.

Install No Trespassing or Keep Out signs

A proper sign makes it more clear to local police or sheriffs  that they can check whether a trespasser has actual authorization to be on the property.

Secure vacant property insurance

A regular homeowner policy may not cover the property if the owner dies and/or if it has been vacant for a period of time (each carrier’s period may be different). The carrier generally must be notified of the death of the owner and may allow the beneficiary to continue the policy for a specific period of time or they may require the beneficiary to order a new replacement policy. Most insurance carriers consider vacant properties to be higher risk due to the issues we have already discussed. This makes it extremely important to contact the homeowner insurance carrier right away to be sure coverage continues.

Being an executor or personal representative of an estate in probate can be overwhelming so my team and I are available to help with real estate, personal property, repairs and maintenance, insurance and legal/accounting issues. The photo at the top of the article is the first probate property I sold. During that transaction I said to myself “Executors and Personal Representatives need help and someone to watch out for their interests and I can do it”.

For a free consultation about selling your probate or family home in Woodland Hills, Calabasas, West Hills or the San Fernando Valley      Call Janey Bishop   (818)570-1144     email [email protected]    or watch my video on this topic at or more videos at

Senior Real Estate Specialist     Probate Certified        Real Estate Collaboration Specialist – Divorce

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