Because executors can live on one coast or the other and anywhere in between, there’s no simple answer to the question, “How long does an executor have to settle an estate?” Many states have different laws on the books that need to be followed that can change timeframes from location to location. Also, estates can range in size from very simple to extremely complicated; the more complex the estate the longer the process to settle the estate.
On the other hand, there are enough similarities that we can come to some conclusion regarding this very common question.
One of the executor’s first steps is to file the will of the deceased individual in probate court. This should occur as soon as possible after the death so that the court can determine if the will is valid and then oversee the transfer of the deceased’s property. Again, keep in mind that probate laws differ from state to state.
The executor has many responsibilities, and he or she needs to show progress or risk being removed as executor by the probate court judge. With that in mind, the executor should take the following steps:
- Notify heirs that the individual has passed.
- Contact banks and financial institutions, the Social Security Administration and creditors who are owed money.
- Take an inventory of all assets, including bank accounts, real estate, vehicles, valuables, etc. Some assets may require a professional appraisal to determine their market value. When the inventory is complete, it should be filed with the probate court.
- Take steps to safeguard all property.
- Open a bank account in the name of the estate to pay unpaid bills.
- File tax returns on behalf of the estate.
- Prepare to deal with anyone who may object to the will. If this occurs, it is in the executor’s best interest to consult with an estate attorney.
Don’t rush the process
The probate process can take many months, sometimes even years to complete. And while it’s important to keep the process moving toward completion, it’s equally important not to rush through the process hoping to just get it over with. For example, an executor who improperly distributes assets from the estate before settling with creditors and paying taxes could be held personally liable.
An experienced Realtor, tax attorney and estate liquidator are all important sources of information and are always willing to help their clients through the estate settlement process. If you’re feeling overwhelmed as an executor, please know that you are not alone and that there are skilled professional just waiting to be of assistance!
How long does an executor have to settle an estate?
As much time as needed as long as they are meeting any deadlines set by the probate court and state laws are being properly followed.
Do you know what questions to ask a Realtor when buying a home?
Home buyers are an interesting study. Some will walk through a home barely speaking a word, giving little indication if they like or dislike the property. They have a clear picture of what they want, and they know it when they see it. Others will come in with dozens of questions and comments, letting their feelings be known throughout the process. Whether you’re the quiet or the questioning type, it’s important to find out as much as you can about a house before buying it. Following are some questions to ask a Realtor when buying a home.
- What can you tell me about the home’s history?For example, how many times has it previously been on the market, and what did it sell for? Did anything unusual ever happen in this home or on the property that I should know about?
- Have any major changes occurred?Have rooms been renovated or added? And if you’re worried about water issues, don’t be shy asking about the condition of the basement, plumbing and roof.
- How much are taxes and utilities? This is important as you want to make sure you can afford your monthly payments. Plus, extremely high utility bills could indicate a problem with the house. If you’re purchasing a condo or a townhouse, be sure to ask if there’s a homeowners’ association fee.
- What about pests?This can range from insects to wildlife to weeds. After all, an infestation is an infestation, and unexpected surprises can be unpleasant.
- Am I covered? Can the current homeowners provide warranties and documents related to appliances, the furnace or boiler, and/or anything mechanical in the house or garage, or on the property?
More questions to ask a Realtor when buying
- What are the neighbors like?
- Is the neighborhood quiet?
- Where are the closest schools, playgrounds, stores, restaurants, gyms, etc.
- Are there a lot of children in the neighborhood?
- In your professional opinion, what would be a fair offer for this house and what do you base that price on?
- What is your impression of the overall condition of the house?
- Why are the current homeowners selling the home?
- What are similar homes in the neighborhood selling for?
- Have there been previous offers on the house that have been rejected?
- How long has the property been on the market?
- Are the walls and the attic well insulated?
These are just a few common questions to ask a Realtor when buying. Because every situation and every house is different, the questions frequently change. Just keep in mind that the key to a successful transaction is asking questions and raising any concerns you may have before you sign on the dotted line. A professional Realtor or real estate agent should be patient and willing to address all of your concerns. Learn more about the basics of looking at a home by watching a short video by the Olear Team.
Michael Olear, a licensed real estate broker and member of the Olear Team at MJ Peterson, will present an educational seminar on Wednesday, August 2 at 1 pm. The seminar will be hosted at Sandra Lane Senior Apartments, 705 Sandra Lane, North Tonawanda.
This seminar is open to the community and focuses on real estate topics relevant to older adults and their loved ones and caregivers, including making a plan to sell a house, right-sizing and simplifying a living situation, legal and regulatory issues to be aware of, and available resources and tools related to these matters.
To register, please contact the Olear Team at (716) 880-4442 or [email protected]
Olear is a licensed real estate broker with thirty years of experience. He has specialized in helping older adults with their real estate needs since 1999. The Olear Realty Group, Inc. is organized as a sub chapter S corporation and supports the Olear Team/MJ Peterson Corporation in the sale of residential real estate throughout Erie and Niagara County. The team has decades of experience in meeting the real estate needs of Western New York residents. Visit olear.com to learn more.
When someone passes away, typically an executor is named in the will. It becomes the executor’s duty to safeguard and eventually liquidate the estate to the satisfaction of the court, the deceased’s beneficiaries and any creditors who are owed money. It can be a long and difficult process, but it’s a fact of life and a task that many have successfully completed before you. And, there’s always help available in the form of estate attorneys, experienced Realtors, liquidation companies, etc.
Along with being asked what is an executor of an estate, we’re also often asked: What are the responsibilities of the executor?
In a nutshell, there are many, and the responsibilities can vary from state to state. Following are some of the more common responsibilities:
- Obtain a copy of the will, read it and understand its contents and the wishes of the deceased.
- Find, record and protect the deceased individual’s assets and property, including bank accounts and safe deposit boxes.
- Photograph or take a video of each room in the house for both records and reference.
- Locate important papers and documents such as deeds, mortgages, Abstract of Title, land survey, tax information, investments, insurance policies, etc.
- Verify that all necessary utilities such as gas, electric and water remain in service, as well as household services such as snow plowing or lawn maintenance.
- Make arrangements for mail to be forwarded and newspapers to be cancelled. The U.S. Postal Service will forward mail for up to one year.
- Ensure that the property looks occupied by placing timers on lights. Adding a security sticker or sign on the property may help deter burglars. New locks should be installed on all properties. The addition of an alarm system should be considered.
- Contact any individuals named as beneficiaries in the will.
- File the will in probate court.
- Finalize the deceased individual’s affairs, such as cancelling credit cards, notifying banks and financial institutions, contacting Social Security, filing taxes, etc.
- Establish a bank account for the estate, keeping any assets separate from your own and paying off debts such as credit cards, mortgage, taxes, etc.
- Collect and deposit life insurance proceeds, if applicable.
- Prepare statements of all transactions and pay any remaining fees tied to the estate, such as attorney fees.
- Distribute property and assets as outlined by the laws of the state.
So, what is an executor of an estate?
It’s someone who was looked upon very highly by the individual before his or her death. It is someone with a great deal of responsibility. It is someone who should take their role very seriously. And, when the process has been completed, it is someone who can take a great deal of pride in a job well done!
While it’s true that being named an executor is a lot of work, it should also be considered an honor. If you are in this position and find it all a bit overwhelming, please remember that you can contact an estate attorney, estate liquidator or an experienced Realtor to help facilitate the process.
So, do you know the difference when it comes to hiring a Realtor vs. real estate agent? Both terms — Realtor and real estate agent — are used frequently. But the question often arises: Are they the same or are they different?
While both terms reflect someone licensed to sell residential or commercial real estate, there is one rather large difference. A Realtor — which is a trademarked term — denotes a real estate agent who has taken the additional step of membership in the National Association of Realtors (NAR). As a member of the NAR, members have access to a wide variety of professional tools such as:
- The Realtor Benefits Program
- Member Value Plus Program
- NAR Library
- Realtors Property Resource
- NAR Research and Statistics, and much more
The NAR’s website, www.nar.realtor, contains a wealth of information. Other categories on the website include:
- Blogs & Videos
- Research & Statistics
- Member Benefits
- Political Advocacy
- Law, Ethics & Policy
- Business Specialties and more.
All of these resources and tools help Realtors provide the highest level of service to their clients.
America’s largest trade association
The NAR is reported to be America’s largest trade association – an organization made up of professionals from a specific industry. (Feel free to use that as a trivia question to stump your friends.) The group represents more than 1.2 million members composed of residential and commercial Realtors along with brokers, salespeople, property managers, appraisers, counselors and many others involved in all aspects of the real estate industry. Realtors pay a small annual fee to maintain membership in the professional organization.
Moreover, there are approximately 1,200 local associations and 54 state and territory associations of Realtors. So, no matter how you look at it, one thing is perfectly clear — Realtors keep America “moving!”
Strict Code of Ethics
The NAR also prides itself on its Code of Ethics & Professional Standards, which helps separates a Realtor vs. real estate agent. The code is made up of 17 articles, 71 supporting standards of practice and 131 explanatory case interpretations. Members are required to successfully complete periodic training on the Code of Ethics as a condition of membership. The code is also broken down into three categories:
- Duties to Clients and Customers
- Duties to the Public
- Duties to Realtors
To become a licensed Realtor or real estate agent takes a true commitment to the profession. Most states require 30 to 90 hours of real estate classroom instruction from an accredited college, university or technical school. When that has been completed, you are also required to pass an exam covering a variety of real estate topics such as standards and practices and real estate law.
According to the NAR’s Code of Ethics, “The term Realtor has come to connote competency, fairness and high integrity resulting from adherence to a lofty ideal of moral conduct in business relations. Accepting this standard as their own, Realtors pledge to observe its spirit in all of their activities whether conducted personally, through associates or others, or via technological means.”
As the saying goes, “You learn something new every day!” And now you know the difference between Realtor vs. real estate agent! The Olear Team benefits from local and national NAR membership, ensuring that our clients receive the very best service and most up-to-date information from our team of agents.