Found the remains of the previous owners wife at one of my flips

73 Replies

Sooooooo.....I just recently purchased a house that I am in the process of flipping and today one of the guys in my contractors crew found the cremated remains of the previous owners wife in the garage.  I have tried numerous times to get ahold of the seller so we can arrange shipment of the remains but at this point I have not had any luck getting ahold of him.  Obviously I'm not going to just throw the remains away but I not really sure what to do if I can't get in touch with the seller.  If anyone has run across this issue before and can give me some advice I would appreicate it.   

Honestly we have found so many things that you would want to track down the old owner and give them. Literally everything you can imagine. We now operate with the mindset of putting it somewhere out of the way and if we haven't been contacted by them to get it back by the time the home is done, we toss it in the garbage. Including cremation remains. On scale you can not take the time to deal with things like that it just isn't feasible for us.

Those remains might make good fertilizer in your landscaping :)

Thinking about it…..you found them in the garage…..says a lot about how he felt about her.

Originally posted by @Parker Detweiler :

 On scale you can not take the time to deal with things like that it just isn't feasible for us.

Wait... What scale are you doing that you can't save someone's cremated remains until you can find a family member? 

If you're really doing that large of a scale, I imagine you have a warehouse where you store materials, right?  

I only do 20-30 deals a year -- and I'm not the least bit sentimental -- and I would keep those for the next ten years while I try to contact family. If you're doing larger scale than that, I can't imagine you don't have some extra space somewhere. 

Just seems like if there was one thing in the world not to throw away, that's it...  Though maybe that's just me... 

@J Scott

We don't store anything, have tried that and you end up losing money. If our suppliers aren't willing to hold it for us we go to someone that will. Having all materials delivered to properties and using man power to actually work and not just haul stuff around is to important. Cash in to cash out is 90 days or less and we aren't going to store anything for a previous owner no matter what, if they don't remember it in the 2-4 weeks it takes us to tear the whole house apart then it isn't our problem. Then again we purchase everything through courthouses and previous owners aren't our biggest fans from the get go. That being said tracking them down is next to impossible as well. Point black you leave it we trash it and have no positive or negative feelings either way. 

Originally posted by @J Scott:
Originally posted by @Parker Detweiler:

 On scale you can not take the time to deal with things like that it just isn't feasible for us.

Wait... What scale are you doing that you can't save someone's cremated remains until you can find a family member? 

If you're really doing that large of a scale, I imagine you have a warehouse where you store materials, right?  

I only do 20-30 deals a year -- and I'm not the least bit sentimental -- and I would keep those for the next ten years while I try to contact family. If you're doing larger scale than that, I can't imagine you don't have some extra space somewhere. 

Just seems like if there was one thing in the world not to throw away, that's it...  Though maybe that's just me... 

Jason - if the previous owners valued those remains, they would have taken them along when they vacated. Sure you can choose to keep stuff people left behind so that former owners can re-unite with their stuff, but that dies become impractical. 

Maybe the husband and the wife were at odds and he cremated her - and now wants nothing to do with her. But if he missed those remains, he could track down the new owner - it is a familiar location after all. 

@Steve Babiak

If I kept all the sentimental crap we found I would have to build a 500,000 square foot warehouse to store it all. Shoot even when the law requires me to keep something I still store the state max storage fee before I sell it at public auction. Glad someone understands what it is doesn't matter and that it isn't my problem under any circumstance. 

Originally posted by @Steve Babiak :

Maybe the husband and the wife were at odds and he cremated her - and now wants nothing to do with her. But if he missed those remains, he could track down the new owner - it is a familiar location after all. 

Perhaps... But maybe at the next family reunion, the kids say, "Hey dad, what ever happened to mom's remains?"

Something like this could be tremendously important to someone outside the previous owner and they haven't yet realized it was left. 

I wouldn't be arguing if it were a class ring or a photo album, but I see this as being different given the additional people who might have a vested interest outside the previous owner. 

I can certainly understand how others might disagree though... Just my take... 

So glad to read this is about cremated remains.  I thought someone found a body!  Teresa

Originally posted by @Parker Detweiler :

@Steve Babiak

If I kept all the sentimental crap we found I would have to build a 500,000 square foot warehouse to store it all. Shoot even when the law requires me to keep something I still store the state max storage fee before I sell it at public auction. Glad someone understands what it is doesn't matter and that it isn't my problem under any circumstance. 

Understood... This is probably the reason people always tell me that I'm too nice... 

@J Scott

I operate as a securities company, so if you hand me a million dollars do you want me to operate in the best interest of your money, or spend YOUR money tracking someone down to give them the remains of a person that they cared enough about to forget about their remains? I am not in this business to be nice I am in this business to make money and PROTECT my investors MONEY. Not trying to come off as an ***, but as I said, not my problem.

Originally posted by @J Scott:
Originally posted by @Steve Babiak:

Maybe the husband and the wife were at odds and he cremated her - and now wants nothing to do with her. But if he missed those remains, he could track down the new owner - it is a familiar location after all. 

Perhaps... But maybe at the next family reunion, the kids say, "Hey dad, what ever happened to mom's remains?"

Something like this could be tremendously important to someone outside the previous owner and they haven't yet realized it was left. 

I wouldn't be arguing if it were a class ring or a photo album, but I see this as being different given the additional people who might have a vested interest outside the previous owner. 

I can certainly understand how others might disagree though... Just my take... 

The thing about remains is that there may be other family that would really appreciate knowing where they are.  The seller may or may not be interested.  Was the seller a senior, where and why did he sell/move?  It's possible the kids or other relatives have no idea that the remains were in the garage.  

If it were me and I couldn't find the seller, I'd move on to other heirs.  There's likely an obit. I'd talk to the neighbors.  If there is one thing my people finding skills are good for, it would be in this situation,  

Thanks to everyone for the feedback.

K.marie P. the seller was a senior who decided to move across the country to be closer to some family on the east coast.  His wife actually passed away inside the home and he decided to sell because no of his kids wanted the house after their mother died there.  According to the seller the wife died there about 4-5 years ago so I'm not sure how feesible it is to pull an obituary.  I have the sellers phone number and I'll keep trying to get in contact with him over the next week, if that doesn't work I'll go from there.  

Originally posted by @Parker Detweiler :

@J Scott

I operate as a securities company, so if you hand me a million dollars do you want me to operate in the best interest of your money, or spend YOUR money tracking someone down to give them the remains of a person that they cared enough about to forget about their remains? I am not in this business to be nice I am in this business to make money and PROTECT my investors MONEY. Not trying to come off as an ***, but as I said, not my problem.

Three times in this thread I said I understand...that it's just my opinion. 

And each time you've come back more defensively trying to justify your actions. 

If you really think you're doing the right thing, you don't need to justify anything to me.

Originally posted by @Jason Pritchard :

Thanks to everyone for the feedback.

@K. marie P. the seller was a senior who decided to move across the country to be closer to some family on the east coast.  His wife actually passed away inside the home and he decided to sell because no of his kids wanted the house after their mother died there.  According to the seller the wife died there about 4-5 years ago so I'm not sure how feesible it is to pull an obituary.  I have the sellers phone number and I'll keep trying to get in contact with him over the next week, if that doesn't work I'll go from there.  

The obit is totally helpful and typically easy to find.  The obit will list the surviving children and usually their location.  Often their spouses.  So with a couple name and location, you have heirs you can notify.  You can send notices to them and to the seller at his forwarding mailing address.  Something easy and simple:  found urn/box marked xxxx.  Please let me know if I can ship them to anyone.  

Jaw open.

I gotta side with @J Scott on this one. I would keep them sealed in a container in my basement till the day I die before getting rid of the remains! 

Wait a minute.  So you won't protect or store the remains?  It's kind of unclear. What if it's only the size of a pop can?  Could find the heart then? 

Meanwhile...   Thought this was a discovered body part! Whoa.  Glad it was you that found it @Jason Pritchard and not our new friend.

In the same amount of time it takes to read through the answers on this post I would be fairly certain that you could do a couple Google searches and have contact details for heirs or family. That's an easy call to make. I can tell you it's a hell of a lot easier than cold calling someone asking to buy their house.

This is a people centric business. Doesn't matter if it's a buyer, seller, neighbor, or stranger on the street. Not contacting someone about their deceased wife or mother is just bad for business and reflects poorly on your ethics. I for one like to do business with other good people and certainly don't think that making a phone call or two is profligate use of your resources.

Medium logo stacked badge r web  1 Neal Collins, Latitude Realty & Property Management | [email protected] | (503) 974‑6633 | http://www.chooselatitude.com

Originally posted by @Jason Pritchard :

Sooooooo.....I just recently purchased a house that I am in the process of flipping and today one of the guys in my contractors crew found the cremated remains of the previous owners wife in the garage.  I have tried numerous times to get ahold of the seller so we can arrange shipment of the remains but at this point I have not had any luck getting ahold of him.  Obviously I'm not going to just throw the remains away but I not really sure what to do if I can't get in touch with the seller.  If anyone has run across this issue before and can give me some advice I would appreicate it.   

Have you contacted:

area nursing homes / hospice - the prevy owner could be a resident  

area funeral homes / cremation service - that may have records where the owner had implied a next of kin idk

I'm not suggesting that you spend thousands tracking down the person. I'm a bit sentimental on this topic and it seems like a very special keep sake. Lots of people use the garage to enter/exit their home more then the front door and they may have placed them there thinking that that'd be the last part of the house they'd be in during them moving out, yet somehow forgot it. 

If you can't find the owner after the house is finished I'd suggest maybe finding a funeral home / church or cremation company - whatever is in close proximity to the subject property to store them if they don't mind. This way if they choose to toss them (hopefully after a lengthy search), its not you doing it.  My coin.

Kudos,

Mary  

My business is run like a securities company too, and on more than one occasion in the last two decades of buying on the courthouse steps I've tracked down a former owner and returned something that seemed really important. It didn't cost my investors a penny, I don't charge for my time and if my employees were involved it would have been on my payroll.  Maybe I'm just not doing enough volume to be too busy, though. I've only done about 600 homes in the last seven years (time to step up my game?). Perhaps if I did any real volume I'd stop going the extra mile...or not...I think that investors don't just care about return, they do business with people, and they watch those people and judge those people and I'm conscious of how I want to be judged by them.

That said, I did have one house where after clearing it out the former owner's daughter showed up about a week into the project to pick up dad...whoops. The crew missed it, but in their defense we did haul off over 25 forty-yard dumpsters of debris from that house so it's no wonder.  The dumpsters were gone, too...l felt horrible but there was just nothing we could do by that point.  :(

Medium praxis capital logo cmyk stacked 900pxBrian Burke, Praxis Capital, Inc. | [email protected] | http://www.PraxCap.com | Podcast Guest on Show #152

Okay, yes, I know the house.  When the previous owner bought it at the top of the market about 20 years ago his wife was running around telling anyone that would listen, "This place cost me an arm and a leg.....!"  Hard to say exactly what she left behind.