Being named the executor of an estate means far more than simply reading out the will. There are a number of responsibilities associated with the title, particularly when the estate includes property. To be certain that all your bases are covered and that you are not liable for any mishandling of the estate, it’s important that you consult with an estate planning lawyer in Toronto.
When the will includes real estate, there are a number of special duties that befall an executor:
Securing the Property and its Contents
An executor should move to secure the property as soon as possible. We suggest changing locks and alarm codes to make sure that you control who can access the household, and photographing contents to make sure that you have an accurate record of their value. It’s also suggested that any small valuables, such as jewellery or high-value electronics, are catalogued and removed from the vacant property for safekeeping.
Ascertain Your Authority as an Executor
Consult with a wills and estates lawyer to make sure that you know the level of authority granted to you as an executor. Can you sell the property immediately, or do you need unanimous agreement from all executors? Is the property to be sold at all, or is it to be held in trust? Are you allowed to sell to anyone, or does the will stipulate restrictions(for example, does the will dictate that it must be kept within the family)? It’s extremely important to know for certain before you move forward with any action regarding the sale of the property.
Mortgages and Liens
As an executor, you will need to determine if there are any mortgages or liens that were borrowed against the value of the property. Are you able to uphold monthly mortgage payments? Is the mortgage insured? Are you able to pay them off with the value of the property, or is there a discharge penalty?
To maintain the property during probate and eventually sell it at its full value, the vacant property will need to be maintained. Does the will limit your ability to upgrade the property for sale? Is there any damage such as water or mould that will need to be fixed before sale? Does the will allow you able to use estate money to carry out appraisals and repairs?
Take Care of Tenants
If deceased owned rental properties, you will need to make sure that the property is taken care of without violating the tenants’ rights. The tenants will likely continue to pay rent towards the estate, and may need to be given adequate time to vacate before the property can be sold. In such cases, you will also need to make sure that the properties are being rented legally, and consult with a real estate lawyer if they are not.
Selling real estate can be a complex affair, even without the added responsibilities and limitations of being an executor. To schedule an appointment with an state planning lawyer in Toronto, call us now. If you have any questions about wills and estates, or any other type of law, please feel free to submit a question through our Ask A Lawyer.