Real estate often makes up the bulk of a person's estate, and when that person passes away, the family home is often at the center of concern. As an executor of the estate, it could be your responsibility to oversee the probate process for your loved one. Once your only living parent passes away, you will be charged with following the wishes of your parent. Often, the will indicates that the estate shall be divided among all siblings.
The estate of the deceased makes up all property owned at the time of death, as well as any debt owed. While property like bank accounts, cash, investment accounts and even automobiles are somewhat simple to divide up among your siblings, the division of the family home can be difficult to accomplish in a fair manner.
The probate process must run its course, which can take several months, depending on the size of the estate. Until the probate becomes final, you have several responsibilities as executor to make sure that the estate maintains continuity. For the family home, for example, you may be required to:
- Pay the property taxes.
- Pay for any needed utilities.
- Pay the mortgage or any loans taken with the home as collateral.
- Pay any other miscellaneous fees, such as condominium association fees or storage fees.
- Pay homeowners' insurance premiums.
- Pay for and arrange for needed repairs on the home.
When Probate is Complete
With the probate court's ruling, you may now begin to divide the property. Before making a decision on the family home, the probate court will likely require an appraisal. Once the appraisal is complete, you will be able to take the value of the family home, together with any other property, and create a division that is fair and equitable with your siblings. You may wish to consider to these choices:
- Divide the proceeds of the sale of the home.
- Sell the home to one sibling (who has expressed this desire) and distribute the cash to the other siblings.
- Use other property to make a fair distribution. For example, one sibling takes a larger share of the stocks and bonds account and gives up any interest in the family home.
Being able to come to an agreement about your loved one's estate will make it easier all around, but If you and your siblings cannot agree on a fair division, you may have to let a judge decide. Probate and the division of property can be a very confusing issue at at time when you are already stressed and emotional. Make sure that you have an experienced probate attorney to assist you during this time for a successful probate and a fair distribution of property.
For more information, contact Stimpson & Associates PC or a similar firm.