Probate Guide

Russell Arkin Probate Guide


As a court appointed Personal Representative you have taken on a tremendous responisbility.  It is very important that you understand your obligations.  Fortunately, Maryland, Washington DC and Virginia Bar Association have published helpful guides to the administration of the Decedent's Estate.  If you are still in need of help, we are here to help provide you guidance through this difficult time.


My eyes were opened when I became the personal representative for both of my parents’ estates. I had to figure out many things quickly and learned that there was no place where all of the resources I needed were readily available. Frustrated, I decided to help others by creating a Community Resources Team to help alleviate the confusion and stress you are experiencing.

We know that if we can get involved early, we can save the estate thousands, sometimes tens of thousands of dollars, by helping sell items from the house, getting it cleaned out, or suggesting repairs or improvements that will cause the home to sell for more money. Further, we can help you plan for a sound financial future. But it must start with a clear understanding of your goals and struggles, followed by careful analysis to provide you with the best options so you can decide the correct path for your situation. Then, we handle the rest!

Many estate-owned homes in our market expire with no offers because they are overpriced and under marketed by our peers. Do not make that mistake: our listings sell for 3% more than average, in less time, and we sell 98% of our listings. But we don’t just help you maximize the sale of real estate, we also help you navigate the other stressful tasks on your long to-do list. We have a team member for every task: clean out, estate sales, tag sales, charitable donations, handyman services, major renovations, legal services, insurance, and investment advice.

The probate process can be overwhelming.   We understand.  By listening to your needs and goals, providing personalized and comprehensive plans and identifying the appropriate resources to guide you through this challenging time, we can help you save money, time and other resources.



VERY IMPORTANT: as the Personal Representative, make sure any real estate in the estate is properly insured.                 

1.  Does the average homeowner’s policy cover a property that is unoccupied?  No, it does not.  The home must be occupied or the insurance company must be informed of the change and update the policy.                 

2.  When does the policy coverage terminate due to non-occupancy?  Typically, 30-45 days, depending on the insurance carrier.                 

3.  If the policy terminates, will the insurance carrier still charge the estate?  If the house is vacant, the insurance policy will terminate, and the insurer should not bill the estate.                 

4.  What should I do to protect unoccupied property?  You will need an unoccupied property policy to protect what is generally the estate’s most valuable asset: the real property.                 

5.  If someone needs this policy, how fast would coverage go into effect?  Immediately.               

6.  Once the policy is in place, can the Personal Representative cancel the previous policy?  Yes.                 

7.  Are unoccupied policies more expensive?  It depends on the house.



please visit to hear these Personal Representatives share their experience with our team in their own words:    

“Russell sold the home for $100,000 more than three other offers.  Russell was the fourth person I met with and told me that the home would sell for $100,000 more than the price quoted by the other three potential buyers who intended to renovate and resell the home. Russell marketed the home and, as he said, it sold for$100,000 more than the others had offered. There were other issues that Russell handled involving clean out of the house, final cleaning and a last-minute termite problem that was resolved at no expense to the estate. I would highly recommend his services. Russell was pleasant to work with and delivered on his promises.”

“I wanted someone who understood the challenges of probating an estate. We were fortunate to come across Russell. He was an excellent guide and got us through the process. He understood probate and all of the issues. He helped us based on his own experience as the Personal Representative of his parents’ estates. We received a full priced offer in three days.”

“We would highly recommend Russell‘s services. The process took a long time because my mother’s health failed and she passed away during the process of getting her home ready for sale. We met with Russell and decided that he was the right person to help us with the marketing and sale of the home based on his experience and his ability to create a high level of demand. The home was in original condition and there were no funds available to renovate. Russell helped us find a company to clean out the huge volume of possessions in the house and the garage, got the home cleaned, and it sold in 5 days after we received two offers for just less than the asking price. We were extremely pleased with Russell’s professionalism and would highly recommend his services.”

“My home sold for $13,000 more than the asking price. I have worked with Russell and he has done a tremendous job selling my second home.  He advised me to buy some stainless steel appliances for the home and also worked with a staging company to prep the house for the market.  We had a lot of people come to see the house and a lot of offers.  We ended up selling the home for $13,000 more than the asking price.”



Often, your loved one leaves behind a home full of memories and personal belongings and it can be overwhelming to decide what will be kept, what will not, and where to begin. Over the course of a lifetime, people accumulate an incredible variety of possessions that reflect their lives. Disposing of these possessions in a dignified, yet efficient manner is often an obstacle to bringing the estate to a final settlement. You are responsible for everything, from valuable family heirlooms to Tupperware and television sets! Our team specializes in coordinating a successful estate sale and can also provide reliable appraisers and other professionals who can help sell any sort of personal property for top dollar.

There are four common options for handling personal property:

•    An Estate Sale is typical for estates with valuable personal property.
•    A re-sale shop can give you a bid or also host a sale.
•    Charitable donations.
•    Clean out of any remaining personal property.

We work with only the best estate sale companies and other professionals to help you sell, donate, and clean out personal property. Whatever the case, we’ve got you covered. Give us the overwhelming stress and time demands and we’ll handle it. And keep in mind that the estate can realize a tax advantage through charitable donations!



Once you decide what to keep and what to get rid of, and have made plans to clean out the house, we’ll be there to help! Just like selling your own home, a Personal Representative should take steps that will maximize the value of the estate property.

Typically, for real property, this means cleaning the property, doing minor repairs, or making the right renovation choices. As real estate experts, we know what improvements provide the best return per dollar. So before you make any decisions, let’s talk about the property, your goals, and the best plan forward to maximize the estate.

Let’s schedule a quick appointment for us to see the home. Once we understand your goals, we’ll present you with a set of options and the net benefit of each so you can make an informed decision. When it’s time to proceed, we’ll connect you with the right professional to work within your schedule and budget.

However, if the estate needs a quick cash offer, it may be best not to even remove anything as the buyer might be willing to take everything with the house. Whatever the case, we’re happy to give you a free professional opinion so you can decide what’s best. 


The Washington D.C. Metro Area is one of the strongest real estate markets in the country. Houses often sell for top dollar in a short amount of time, but that is not always the case. To begin, we can make a quick visit to the property, usually within 24 hours, to help you determine the best strategy. When we sit down with you to discuss the real estate, we will offer at least three options so you know the market range for the property. For comparison, we often use a quick cash sale, an as-is listing with no or minor repairs, and a conventional listing assuming major repairs or renovations have been made. Depending on your situation, we can talk through the options to decide what best satisfies your goals while maximizing the estate.

We will look at the overall condition of the property and its major components and determine how the property compares to the most recent local sales. We also will look at the current market and advise you on the best strategy for realizing the highest price in the least amount of time. We want you to know all of your options, so if the options we provide do not fit your situation, we’ll create one that does. What we won’t do is just show up at the house with a yard sign and sell it. Our goal is to provide you with sound financial advice so you will realize 100 percent of the current market value.

One of three strategies typically works for the majority of situations:          

1.  As-Is Sale: clean it, stage it, and list it on the open market with our team. In the last month,we helped a Personal Representative realize $100,000 more for a house they were considering selling to an investor. We can take a quick walk through, offer recommendations to improve the property’s condition, and educate you on the fair market value based on its as-is condition.             

2.  Quick Cash Sale: sell to investor quickly at well below market value. These transactions can close within 3-5 business days with the property usually selling at 60% to 80% of market value. If this is the best financial option for the family because funds are needed quickly, we work with a select group of cash buyers that are ready to help our clients.           

3.  Renovate the Home: invest estate assets to bring the property to its highest market value, stage it, and list it with our team. We can help you analyze whether renovating the home will bring you a return that is greater than the funds invested. In some situations, the return on investment is well worth it! No matter your situation, we can work quickly with you to help you develop a sound strategy to accomplish your goals. We have a private database of more than 5,300 local buyers, many of whom are looking for homes in your area. Don’t worry if you live out of the area, we can do a video call live from the property and we’ll walk you through all the details.




  • All Utilities turned on
  • Access clear to electrical panel, crawl space, attic space and garage walls
  • Please remove or put up pets

Please note:  More than likely the buyers will come to the inspection. Please have the house clean.  Change all filters prior to the inspection.


  • Make sure water drains away from the house
  • Fix any loose shingles or nail pops on the roof
  • Clean gutters and clear downspouts
  • Check wood trim joints for softness and caulk
  • Check any steps for loose bricks or wood
  • Check any handrail for looseness
  • If there is a deck, check for weathering wood
  • Make sure there is no wood or fallen insulation on the ground or in the crawlspace
  • Make sure hose bibs aren't loose or leaking
  • Add anti-siphon attachment to hose bib if it  doesn't have one


  • Check auto reverse on garage door
  • Check garage walls for termite (mud) tubes
  • Clear items off garage walls
  • Make sure fire rating drywall is not compromised


  • Check that all windows can open and close
  • Check that all windows can stay up on their own
  • Check all windows for broken seals/cracks
  • Check all outlet covers are tight and not missing screws
  • Make sure all doors open and close without rubbing
  • Check walls and doors for punctures from door handle or from door stop
  • Check ceiling fans for wobbling
  • Check and replace all burned out light bulbs
  • Consider getting carpet cleaned and re-stretched if needed
  • Check for and fix any holes/nail pops in walls/ceiling


  • Fill all sink basins, drain, check for leaks
  • Check disposal and dishwasher
  • Check cabinets for looseness and rubbing
  • Check that all burners and elements work on stove and oven
  • Check counter and splash block for needed caulking
  • Check for loose tiles
  • Check the toilet for cracks or loose/rocking toilets
  • Check flush and supply and that the toilet cuts off
  • Make sure hot and cold aren't reversed (hot is on left
  • Check all faucets for water pressure. Try cleaning out aerators/screens
  • Check laundry connection for leaks
  • Check water heater for leaks
  • Check for tripped or missing breakers


Are you a busy Personal Representative going through the Probate process and want someone to ANTICIPATE your needs and handle all the details?

Do you want to eliminate the OVERWHELMING STRESS of all the added duties involved with settling an estate?

Would having a trusted advocate answer all of your estate-related questions be valuable to you?

If you answered "YES" to any of these questions, you have come to the right place!


We are experts in helping Personal Representatives and Attorneys get to their desired outcome faster, more smoothly and with mush less stress!  We have built a Community Resource Team around the Probate process that will follow you to focus on your busy life and not worry about all of the details.

Here's an example:  We recently helped a busy Personal Representative who lives in South Carolina and did not have time to travel back and forth to deal with selling the house and the personal property in her family's estate.  We helped by:

    • Explaining the local real estate market and what to expect.

    • Handling all of the repairs the property needed to maximize the value of the estate.

    • Pricing, marketing and selling the house for top dollar.

  • Liquidating personal property through a re-sale shop and charitable donations.

We help you gain control of the probate process by eliminating unnecessary confusion and stress during this life transition, so you can focus on the other demands of your busy life.

Give us a call at 703-401-7327 or to schedule a risk-free consultation.