Probate or Trust? How to be an Administrator

Probate or Trust? How to be an Administrator

These five tips will help you with a thankless and difficult job.

Over the last 20 years, I have spent a lot of time selling properties in a probate situation or as a trust sale. That’s why I am sharing some of my insights into what can often be a thankless and difficult job.

One of the key things to remember is that, during a time often marked by grieving and jumping through a lot of hoops, it’s essential to work with the right probate or trust attorney and a professional real estate agent. This alone can make a world of difference. An experienced agent like me will have a team of vendors to assist with the difficulty and tedium of being an administrator.

One of the first things that an administrator will realize is that they are quickly targeted by bargain hunters such as savvy investors, cash buyers, and discount-hungry neighbors. This is one area where administrators want to be particularly careful, as they have a fiduciary duty to sell the home at the highest possible dollar value. This will only happen by putting the house on the open market.

“I have spent a lot of time selling properties in a probate situation or as a trust sale.”

The second thing to consider is the security of the property and its contents. It’s an unfortunate reality that, as soon as the word gets out that someone has passed, it opens up the risk from caregivers, roommates, relatives, and friends who had access to the house. To avoid having things stolen from the home, it’s always a good idea to change the locks, get a good camera or security system, and even get help from a trustworthy neighbor to keep an eye on the place.

What happens if tenants or family members are living in the home? This can be complicated by things like pre-existing lease agreements, which will have to be honored and can sometimes be difficult to locate. If no such document exists, it can be a good idea to have those tenants begin the process of moving or at least secure a written agreement of what will happen to them.

A fourth thing to keep in mind is that you want to check for any liens against the property. Pull a preliminary title report to find out if there are any delinquent bills, like reverse mortgages, utility liens, solar liens, or even regular mortgages. Many of these won’t cause the property to go into foreclosure or can take years to get there, but banks may move very quickly. However, if they realize the property will be sold, they usually hold off.

Finally, there is the matter of clearing out the home and hiring a trustworthy estate sale company. Smaller items can be sold easily, but unusual items might require a specialty company. Obviously, any junk needs to be hauled away. While there are occasions when it is just not possible to clean out the house, know that this will significantly discount the price of the home.

As you can see, being the administrator for these situations can be a lot of work. If you find you are in someone’s will or trust as an administrator, it’s always a good idea to talk with them beforehand about their wishes. If you are in this situation, or you know someone who is, please feel free to reach out to us by phone or email. We would be happy to help serve as a resource for you.

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