Probate Mistakes to Avoid

Although you are the executor of the estate, it is important to get feedback from siblings and other adult heirs. Oftentimes when making decisions about a loved one’s belongings, unresolved issues, past hurts and underlying misunderstandings tend to surface.

Having an open discussion with the other hiers about your role and your intentions will help to keep conflicts at bay.

Surprisingly decisions about personal belongings such as china, vases, photos, paintings, jewelry, furniture etc. raise more controversy than any real property that the deceased may have owned.

Other things to consider include:

  • Know how the probate process works— even if you have hired an attorney. Knowing what to expect and when can help you manage your life better; especially during such an emotional time.
  • Secure the property; change the locks.
  • Take inventory of all personal property. Make a list and take pictures.
  • Maintain the yard. Keeping the grass cut and collecting the mail will provide a sense of normalcy and ward off potential burglary.
  • Maintain proper insurance on the property.
  • Make a list of all monthly bills and outstanding debt. As an administrator or executor of the estate, you are responsible for keeping these current.
  • Keep a file of receipts for any money spent to maintain the property
  • Make sure you understand the current housing market before selling the property. Get the true current value.
  • Find out the outstanding mortgage and HOA dues (if applicable).
  • If you decide to sell the property use a Certified Probate Real Estate Specialist to sell the home. They are educated about the probate process and know what is expected and when. Being in charge of a loved one’s estate is not a time to make possible costly mistakes.

Legally you cannot sell the property until you have received letters of testamentary from the probate judge. However; if there is a ‘will’ involved it may state that full authority is granted to the executor named in the ‘will;’ giving them permission to sell the property without notifying the other heirs.

To maintain the peace among heirs, open communication regarding the estate is always encouraged.


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