Making Your Executor Duties Easier

Making Your Executor Duties Easier

“Most people are overwhelmed at how many moving parts there are,” says David Inabinett, an estate attorney in Lexington, N.C.

Here are some of the challenges you’ll face, and a few tips to help you through.

You’ll be chasing paper

Ideally, you and the deceased would have discussed the locations of his assets and important documents (like titles and insurance policies) prior to his death. “Unfortunately,” says Inabinett, “most people have not had that conversation.” You’ll probably have to hunt down the info.

Ease the burden: Look for tax returns first, as they are a good road map for real estate, sources of income, interest-bearing accounts, dividend-yielding investments, and retirement assets. Also, have the deceased’s mail forwarded to you. That won’t help you find accounts for which the person receives e-statements, though, so also contact your loved one’s email provider to see if you can gain access to his inbox.

You’ll juggle many roles

It’s up to you to notify your loved one’s financial institutions of his death. Until all the assets are passed to heirs, you must also prudently manage the estate’s finances, from paying bills to filing taxes.

Ease the burden: Draft help. “Just because you’re the executor doesn’t mean you have to do everything,” says Mary Randolph, author of The Executor’s Guide. Others named in the will may be happy to assist.

Should the will need to go through probate — a process of validating it legally — you could be looking at six months or more before you can distribute assets. Even if the estate is small enough to avoid probate, you may be in for a few months of work to settle debts before handing out inheritances.

No such luck? You are entitled to take a fee for your efforts, which might mitigate resentment; the amount varies by state. Or hire a professional, like a financial adviser. The person’s fees may be paid out of the estate.

You may ruffle some feathers

Many wills leave gray areas (like, who gets Aunt Helen’s ring?). As executor, you’re in charge of settling those questions and other disagreements. You may also have to deliver news people don’t want to hear.

Ease the burden: First off, “let people know what’s going on,” says Randolph. Keeping people in the loop helps prevent frustration.

Second, don’t make unilateral decisions that surprise people, such as selling your dad’s house without running it by your siblings. If disputes threaten relationships, hire a mediator or come up with impersonal ways to divide goods, like drawing straws. Your loved one wouldn’t want his death to tear the family asunder.

Webinar on Reducing Falls in the Home

Buffalo’s own Institute for Personalized Care is designed to provide better delivery of services to frail and vulnerable people, particularly the elderly, and support advocacy and public awareness of their needs, through a program of cross-disciplinary research, education and practice development. The Institute is offering a Webinar on reducing falls and increasing mobility in the home.

According to the Institute, the session will “review alarm use which has become the standard of practice, as restraints were, for plans of correction as it relates to accident and incidents as well as prevention of falls. We are now in a period of rethinking their use, as we understand more about their damaging effects, and about the role mobility plays in reducing falls with injury.”

The webinar is 1 and 1/2 hours and is pre-recorded. You can learn more by going here and scrolling down to the webinar titled, “Promoting Mobility and Reducing Falls By Individualizing Care and Eliminating Alarms.”

Foreclosure Rates Hit Lowest Since ’08

There were 101,371 distressed sales during the first quarter of 2013, RealtyTrac said Thursday. That accounted for 21% of the total market, down from 25% a year earlier. The most striking trend in distressed property sales now is the decline in short sales, according to RealtyTrac spokesman Daren Blomquist. These are deals on homes that are worth less than what sellers owe to the bank. Banks okay the sales to prevent the home from going through the costly foreclosure process, and forgive the unpaid debts. Nationally, short sales fell 35% in the first quarter, compared with 12 months earlier.

As home prices rise, underwater borrowers are tempted to hold onto their properties with the hope of selling at the price they paid. That way, they won’t take a big hit to their credit score for failing to fully repay their loans.

Lenders are also less inclined to approve short sales, because even the prices of bank-owned houses are going up. The average foreclosure price rose 28% during the first three months of 2013, and that’s given lenders more leeway to deny low-ball short sales.

If a short sale doesn’t work out, the banks aren’t necessarily going to lose more money on a foreclosure, Blomquist explained.

Distressed property sales will continue to shrink as fewer homeowners fall behind on their mortgages. Lenders repossessed fewer than 35,000 homes in April, a third of the number of foreclosures repossessed during September 2010

Coming Up Next: Awesome Summer Events in Buffalo

Looking for something to do over the next couple of weekends? Check out our expansive events calendar, which can be downloaded from Olear Realty Group’s website! In the meantime, check out these awesome events happening over the next few weeks:

June 28: Counting Crows and The Wallflowers at Canalside

June 29: Kiss the Summer Hello at Coca Cola Field

July 3: Dave Matthews Band at Darien Lake

July 5-July 7: Holiday Valley Summer Music Festival

Stay tuned throughout the summer for more amazing events headed to Western New York and don’t forget to download the summer concert calendar from our website!

Five Things to Know About Open Houses

1. Ignore Window Dressing

A full 94% of sellers do some “staging,” such as repainting or bringing in new furniture, says Coldwell Banker.

“You can be so wowed by staging that you overlook important things,” says San Jose realtor Carl San Miguel. To focus on what matters, lift rugs to look at floors, ask the agent to turn off music so you can listen for nearby noise, and beware of any smells masked by candles.

Also request a disclosure sheet, which lists known structural issues.

2. You can learn a lot from the crowd

Nearly half of buyers visit open houses, says the National Association of Realtors, so pay attention to your fellow shoppers’ comments; they may have insight into how this home stacks up. Locals often pop in too, so if someone sounds like a neighbor, ask about the area.

Related: Miami’s housing boom

To get a feel for demand, visit in the last hour and peek at the sign-in sheet. A full sheet could mean the home will sell quickly, says Paul Reid, a California-based agent.

3. It’s your chance to test-drive the place

Visiting a home in person allows you to pick up on details you won’t see in the listing, such as the strength of the water pressure and how much you could actually cram in the closets. What buyers often forget, though, is to explore the neighborhood as well, says Dallas agent Mary Beth Harrison. Get a sense of the area by checking out surrounding streets and driving home using a different route.

4. The agent may be scouting you…

Listing agents will often tap a colleague to run an open house, so your host may be fishing for buyers to represent. If you’re in the market for an agent, this can be a chance to meet pros and see what they’re like on the job. Not interested? Say so upfront to fend off any confusion, says Harrison.

Related: Tips for buying a property

Shoppers who already have a buyer’s agent should write his contact information on the sign-in sheet so he can handle any follow-up calls or emails on their behalf.

5. …Or gathering info for the seller

When a listing agent is hosting, pepper her with questions. Ask whether there have been any upgrades to the property, if she’s gotten any offers, and when and why the sellers are moving (you may get a vague reply on that last one).

Related: How much do you know about mortgages?

Keep mum on your budget, feelings about the home, and anything else that might give the seller a leg up in negotiations. “Don’t assume the agent is there to help you out,” says Chicago agent Fran Bailey.

–from CNN Money