Issues the Executor Didn’t Know About
Sometimes estate administrators fall victim to problems they didn’t even know about.
Here’s a common one…
After one spouse dies, the surviving spouse goes to sell a piece of real estate that they owned with the deceased spouse.
The surviving spouse tells the realtor about the ownership situation. Realtor says, “No big deal. You’ll probably just have to sign an additional form and bring a death certificate to the closing.”
Three days later, the title company calls the surviving spouse. It’s not great news.
Title agent: Sir, you’re not going to be able to close on this property until you go to probate court.”
Spouse: Why probate? My spouse and I were joint owners. Didn’t her half pass directly to me at her death?
Title Agent: Well you were co- owners, but there was no right of survivorship. That means that your wife’s interest was not automatically transferred to you as the other owner after her death. It might not be that difficult. But you probably aren’t going to meet this closing deadline. You’ll need a probate lawyer though.
Spouse calls probate lawyer.
Probate lawyer: Did your late spouse have a will? If so, this might not be all that complicated. There’s often a power to sell real estate in a will. If there is the power of sale, once the executor of her will is appointed, the executor can sell her half of the property.
Spouse: Unfortunately, my spouse did not have a will. What does that mean for the process?
Probate lawyer: We will have to get the property transferred to you before you can close on that property.
Client: How long will that take?
Probate lawyer: It’s uncertain. The probate court has been affected with staffing the same way other employers have as of late. You’ll probably be required to pay to lock in the buyer’s interest rate to keep this sale on track.
The morals: Going to see a probate attorney before selling would have saved this stress. Having a will would have fast tracked this situation and avoided problems the executor didn’t know about.