Welcome to the Comstock Realty blog! I’m Ryan Comstock, your trusted probate realtor in Tucson, Arizona. Today, we’re diving into a crucial aspect of probate proceedings: managing personal belongings after the passing of a loved one, whether a will is in place or not. Many individuals find themselves in a quandary when faced with the task of emptying a house before probate or determining what to do with personal effects. Let’s explore some important considerations and steps to navigate this process smoothly.

Understanding Probate and Personal Belongings: Probate is the legal process of administering a deceased person’s estate. One of the primary tasks involved is the distribution of personal belongings. Whether there’s a will or not, certain steps need to be followed to handle these items appropriately.

Can You Empty a House Before Probate? The answer to this question depends on various factors, including state laws and the specific circumstances of the situation. In Arizona, for instance, you typically can’t sell or distribute assets until the probate process is complete. However, there are exceptions for small estates or if the deceased had assets held in a trust. Consult with a probate attorney to understand the rules that apply in your situation.

What to Do with Personal Belongings After Death:

  1. 1. Locate Important Documents: Begin by identifying and securing important documents such as the will, financial records, and any instructions left by the deceased regarding their belongings.

  2. 2. Inventory Personal Belongings: Create a comprehensive inventory of the deceased’s personal effects. Categorize items to facilitate the distribution process later on.

  3. 3. Consult with Family Members: If there’s no will, involve family members in the decision-making process regarding the distribution of personal belongings. Try to reach a consensus on how to handle specific items.

  4. 4. Donate or Dispose: Consider donating items to charity or disposing of belongings that hold no sentimental or monetary value. This can help streamline the process and alleviate the burden of managing a large estate.

  5. 5. Appraise Valuable Items: For valuable assets such as jewelry, artwork, or antiques, consider hiring a professional appraiser to determine their worth accurately.

  6. 6. Work with a Probate Realtor: As a probate realtor, I can assist you in navigating the complexities of the probate process, including handling personal belongings. I can provide valuable insights and resources to help you make informed decisions and ensure a smooth transition.


Managing personal belongings after the death of a loved one can be a challenging and emotional process. Whether there’s a will in place or not, it’s essential to approach this task with care and consideration. By following the steps outlined above and seeking professional guidance when needed, you can navigate probate proceedings more effectively. As your probate realtor in Tucson, Arizona, I’m here to support you every step of the way. Feel free to reach out to me for personalized assistance tailored to your unique needs.