Will the Estate Pay for Hoarder Cleanup of a Deceased Person’s Residence?

Every once in a while, when a person passes away surviving family members discover that the individual had suffered from what medically is known as hoarding disorder. People with this disorder oftentimes are referred to among the general public as hoarders. Discovering that a deceased loved one was hoarding can not only be a shocking surprise but also be a significant challenge for family members. If you’ve found yourself in such a position, one important question you may have is who pays for hoarder cleanup? Does the estate pay for hoarder cleanup?

Estate Assets and Hoarder Property Cleanup

The bottom line is that an estate ultimately will be responsible for paying the costs associated with hoarder property cleanup. There are a number of specific factors you need to bear in mind when it comes to an estate paying for hoarder cleanup.

The first issue is the timing of payment for professional hoarder property cleanup. An important fact about hoarder property cleanup is that it needs to commence as soon as it is discovered, if at all possible. The longer a hoard is allowed to persist, the more damage it can cause to a residence. Moreover, a significant hoard is going to contain biohazards that need to be addressed promptly to protect people from contracting a serious disease or illness as a result of exposure to dangerous pathogens.

As a consequence, one of the most immediate steps an executor or administrator of an estate will need to do is to set up financial arrangements to engage the services of a hoarder property cleanup professional. Hoarding cleanup generally is not something a layperson will want to pursue on their own. First, the challenge of taking on such a task can truly be overwhelming to a person who doesn’t have a background in tending to this type of situation. Second, because a hoarding situation nearly always involves the presence of dangerous biohazards that can present a real risk to the health and wellbeing of people, a professional is in the best position to address the remediation of a hoarding situation.

If an informal probate process is permitted, an executor or administrator can use estate funds to pay for hoarder property cleanup without any action on the part of the court. On the other hand, if a formal probate process is being used, the permission of the court might be needed to make an immediate expenditure that is out of the ordinary. More common early expenditures in a probate proceeding are final medical bills and funeral expenses – not hoarder property cleanup.

Provided a court is given appropriate information about the hoarding situation and provided a reasonable estimate and itemization of work done is available, a judge is certain to act in a timely manner to approve payment for hoarder property cleaning. A reputable hoarder property cleanup company will be able to provide a reliable estimate at the outset of a project and an appropriate itemization of work done when a project is completed. If a probate court desires, photos of a residence before and after remediation will also be available from a hoarder property cleaning company.

Homeowner’s Insurance and Hoarder Property Cleanup

The likelihood of a homeowner’s insurance policy providing extensive coverage for hoarder property cleaning is not great. The reason for this is because an insurance policy and company is apt to conclude that hoarding was intentional conduct by the homeowner.

With that said, it is possible that some types of damage that may have been caused to the structure of a residence as a consequence of hoarding might be covered, at least to some degree, by a homeowner’s insurance policy. For example, if hoarding resulted in some windows at a residence being broken, perhaps there might be some provision in a homeowner’s insurance policy that might assist to some degree in window replacement.

The point is that although a homeowner’s insurance policy may remain in force after the death of the individual that owned a residence, seeking financial assistance from that insurance company is not typically a reasonable course.

Selling the Residence

If a decision has been made to place the deceased person’s residence up for sale as part of the probate process, the hoard nearly always will need to be dealt with initially. With that said, there may be some cash buyers in the marketplace who seek homes in poor condition as investments to flip (or resell quickly). There may be such a buyer willing to purchase a home in which a hoarder lived in as an as-is condition. The presence of a hoard will necessarily reduce the sales price in two ways. First, a reduction will occur due to the hoard cleanup costs that will be incurred. Second, with a hoard in a residence, it is impossible to fully inspect the premises as part of an effort to ascertain its value. The probate court would need to approve such a sale.