Being an executor is a large responsibility. You are responsible for carrying out someone’s last wishes.
People find themselves in this situation in a variety of ways. You may have been named the executor by the will, or appointed by the court.
It is common for a property to be left to multiple beneficiaries, often siblings or other family members. The executor then has the job of selling the home where the profits will be divided between the beneficiaries.
The more people involved, the more complicated your job as executor may be. You not only have a moral responsibility to the person’s last wishes, but duties appointed by the court as well.
You should take this process one step at a time. Let’s look ahead at what this process will involve.
What is Probate
Before moving forward, it’s important to understand what probate is.
This is the process of the court authenticating a will and ensuring it is carried out.
Probate involves paying the deceased’s final bills and taxes, going through appraisals to determine the value of the assets named in the will, and then distributing the assets to the beneficiaries.
How This is Different From Traditional Home Sales
The first big difference between a traditional real estate deal and selling a home in California as an executor is that there are more people involved.
When you are selling a home that you own, you are responsible mostly to yourself. You need to make sure you follow real estate laws and disclose problems with the property to the seller, but otherwise, you are focused on getting the best deal for yourself when selling your home.
As an executor, you are responsible to the court, the beneficiaries, and to the deceased person’s wishes. The process for selling the home is also different.
Related: Selling a Home in San Mateo, CA
How to Sell A Home As An Executor
The first thing you will need to do is file the will with the probate court. You can’t move forward with listing the home on the market until you get approval from the court.
There will be a person called a probate referee. This person will perform an appraisal on the property. Once they determine a fair- value on the property, you will be required to get at least 90% of that value before you can sell.
You can, of course, get more for this property than the appraiser values it at, but you will need to try and meet that amount. If you can’t, you’ll need to go through the court to attempt to negotiate that situation.
Once the property has been appraised by the probate referee, you need to contact all the interested parties. This means you will need to notify all beneficiaries of your intent to sell the property and the appraised value. You will need to obtain written consent from the beneficiaries before you can move forward.
One or more of the beneficiaries may object. If this happens, the executor can offer them the option to buy the other shares of the property themselves. The executor also has the option to seek the approval of the probate court to bypass any objections and sell the property.
If more than one beneficiary wants to buy out the shares of the others, then the probate court will be required to mediate that sale.
Once you have the consent of the beneficiaries and you have your appraisal approved by the court, then you can move forward with listing and selling the property.
When you are selling a home in California as an executor, the law states that you can accept an offer without first having to seek out the approval of the probate court as long as the offer meets 90% of the previously submitted appraised value. You will need to meet this amount or contact the court if you are having difficulties.
Get an Experienced Agent On Your Side
As everything else has been different so far, it may not surprise you that getting a real estate agent as an executor should be a little different from that of a traditional home sale.
While you can realistically use any real estate agent you want to, it may be in your best interest to talk to a potential agent and discover their experience selling properties in probate.
As an executor, you have a fiduciary duty to manage the sale of this estate with a high standard of care. Anyone involved in the process, such as the court or other interested parties, like the beneficiaries, can make claims against your efforts. You want to be able to say that you are upholding your duty as executor.
Real estate agents also have a fiduciary duty to their clients. You can trust that an experienced agent will be on your side. It can relieve a lot of the stress of this process to have someone with experience on your side to help you navigate these waters.
An agent experienced with probate sales will understand the process. Your real estate agent will help with special probate duties like giving the escrow officer the appropriate paperwork (a certified copy of the death certificate as well as letters of administration of testamentary), understanding you need to sell at a certain amount, preparing disclosures for signing, and getting probate addendums and paperwork signed when listing.
Of course, they will also fulfill the traditional role of a real estate agent, listing the property and taking marketing photos, handling showings of the property, and negotiating the sale with you.
Completing the Probate Process
Once the property is sold, the profits will be considered assets of the estate. You won’t simply give the money to the beneficiaries. Instead, the profits will be divided up as instructed in the will once the entire probate process has been completed.
This process takes longer than a normal home sale and requires the involvement of many more people and a lot more paperwork. The executor has a large responsibility, but if you take the job step by step and seek the counsel of the right professionals along the way, you’ll sell the home and complete the probate process successfully.
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