If you are the executor or the trustee of an estate that includes a home, as the fiduciary it is your responsibility to make sure the home is maintained and protected during the administration of the estate.
Below are several items that you will need to address:
- Review all insurance policies with the insurance agent to see that the real estate is protected from fire, vandalism and even flood.
- Verify that all mortgage payments are being made and real estate taxes and homeowner association dues (if applicable) are current.
- Order an appraisal of the property. This will determine a sales price in the event the property will have to be sold. It also will establish a basis for capital gain or loss on the sale of the property.
- Inspect the property to ascertain if someone is occupying the premises. Often there is a relative living in the property. Is there a lease or a provision in the estate planning document that allows the person to continue to live in the home? Sometimes the will or trust will have a provision that allows the person to continue to live in the property for a short period of time before they have to vacate. Some living trust documents have a provision that the trustee may give one of the beneficiaries the right to live in the home. This provision is a value to the estate. Not all estate planning documents have this provision. If the documents do not have this provision then rent must be charged.
- Insure that the property is being maintained. The lawn will need to be kept mowed and the home will need to be heated in the winter months.
- Review the estate planning documents to see if there is a specific provision that leaves the home to a beneficiary or group of beneficiaries. Even if the documents have such a provision, it will be your responsibility to maintain the home until it is distributed out of the estate.
- In the event the home is to be sold you will want to contact a real estate agent. The real estate agent will be able to tell you what needs to be done in order to get the property ready for sale. This can perhaps save you from making un-needed changes when in fact it only needs some cleaning to be freshened up.
As you can see, there are many responsibilities that come with the position of serving as the trustee of an estate. Your estate planning attorney can offer guidance through this process.
For more information on estate administration visit: https://www.sinclairprosserlaw.com/services/trust-administration-probate/trust-administration-probate-frequently-asked-questions/
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