Your Family Home and Probate

If you have been appointed executor of a will for your only living parent, you may understand that you are responsible for ensuring that the will is properly filed with the court and that the wishes of the deceased are carried out. Many times the will simply specifies that the the deceased's entire estate, including the family home, be divided among all the children of the diseased. As the executor, you may have many questions about how a home can be divided between several siblings. Here is more information on how probate affects your family home.

Before Probate Is Complete

For many, real estate makes up the largest part of the estate, and the division of this property can prove to be a thorny issue. Investment accounts, cash, and vehicles are all far easier to divide up into two or more equal amounts to make it as fair as possible for all concerned. The final decision must wait for the estate to complete it's probate process, however. In the meantime, it is the responsibility of the executor to ensure that the property continues to operate as smoothly as before. Some of the duties of the executor in regard to the home include

  • Pay property taxes on the home.
  • Keep at least minimum utilities running and paid for.
  • Paying mortgage and equity lines of credit bills.
  • Paying any condominium or storage fees.
  • Pay the homeowner's insurance.
  • Take care of any needed repairs.

After Probate Has Ruled the Will Valid

Once you have a ruling from the court you may proceed with dispersing the property. For real estate, an appraisal will likely be required. The appraisal should serve as a guideline as you, together with your siblings, decide on what to do with the house. This is not an issue for the court to decide, but the court will step in if no decision can be made or if one of the siblings files a protest.

There are basically three choices in how to proceed:

  1. Sell the home and divide the proceeds.
  2. One sibling who wants the home offers cash to buy out the other siblings.
  3. Other property is traded in lieu of the home. For example, one sibling gives up their interest in the home and instead takes a greater share of an investment account.

The advice of a competent estate or probate attorney like Leon J Teichner & Associates, P.C. to guide you through this process will be invaluable, so make sure that you have an experienced professional by your side throughout this stressful time.