When your parent named you as the executor of his or her estate, you likely understood that you had a lot of work ahead of you. Unfortunately, acting as an executor is an often-thankless position because many others focus solely on when they will receive their bequests rather than realizing what a difficult position you hold.
Still, you must complete all steps of the probate process -- with or without thanks -- in order to properly close the estate. In some cases, you may have to deal with particularly difficult steps, like overseeing the sale of real estate.
What should you do with a home left behind?
If your parent did leave behind real estate, it is important that you address the property in the manner he or she intended. You can, hopefully, determine those intentions by reading his or her will, if one was created. Typically, individuals address how they want real estate handled after their passing in this document. Some parties may choose to leave homes to specific loved ones, and others may wish that such property is sold and the proceeds split between heirs or donated to charity.
Whatever the wish may be, you need to follow it in accordance with the decedent's instructions or in accordance with California state laws if you do not have a will to follow.
What precautions should you take?
As mentioned, you may not receive praise for acting as executor, but still, you must do it. When it comes to handling real estate during probate, you may face many questions from those who stand to benefit from the sale of the home or even accusations of wrongdoing. In efforts to lessen the potential for conflict, you may want to take the following precautions:
- Change the locks as soon as possible. You have a duty to protect the home and any assets inside, and changing the locks can help prevent others from entering and possibly walking away with something they should not have.
- Keep heirs informed. Providing information to beneficiaries may prevent them from thinking that you are hiding something from them.
- Get a realistic selling price. When it comes to determining the price of the property, working with a real estate professional could help ensure that you obtain a realistic price and not one that the beneficiaries may question.
Unfortunately, the steps of selling a home during probate do not stop there. In fact, the process can be a long and drawn-out requiring more attention than if you simply sold a home you owned yourself. Fortunately, a probate attorney can help ensure that you properly handle this aspect and others involved in closing the estate.