Understanding your appointment as executor of estate

Understanding your appointment as executor of estate

When an individual dies and leaves a will, there’s a good chance that a close friend or family member has been named executor. Before appointment as executor of estate can become official, there are several legal steps to take.

Guidelines for appointment as executor of estate

  • First, the individual named as executor in the will must be formally appointed by a probate court judge. Formal appointment by court order is required in order for the executor to carry out the wishes of the deceased individual and liquidate the estate.
  • If the named executor does not wish to carry out his or her duties or is unable to serve, the court will select an alternate executor. Being named executor in a will does not contractually bind you to accept that role. Depending on the size of the estate, a great deal of time and effort may be required.
  • Before being appointed, the executor must file a petition in probate court in the county where the deceased individual lived. Along with the petition, the executor must also present the original will and pay a filing fee that is typically in the $150 range.
  • Every state has its own rules regarding appointment as executor of estate. An experienced estate attorney can provide much needed advice along with general guidelines to follow.
  • When officially appointed, the executor has numerous responsibilities such as safeguarding all property and assets, paying outstanding bills and taxes, closing bank and investment accounts, and distributing the remaining assets to beneficiaries named in the will. Every will, and every estate settlement, is different. 
  • Frequently, settling an estate includes preparing the deceased’s house or other property for sale and selling it. An experienced Realtor can help ensure this process is completed efficiently.
  • Finally, the executor must always act in a fair and honest manner and in the best interest of the estate. Realtors, estate attorneys and estate liquidators can a tremendous help.

If you find yourself in the role of executor and need assistance with the real estate aspect of settling the estate, the Olear Team can help – call us today at 716-880-4442

Advice for sellers who ask “How can I sell my house fast?”

We often deal with clients who, for various reasons such as an upcoming marriage, divorce, a growing family or a move out of town for a new job will ask, “How can I sell my house fast?”

While there is no guarantee, there are several steps that a seller can take to help their house sell as efficiently as possible. Some helpful guidelines include:

  • Show it well
  • Market it well
  • Price it well

Here are a few other suggestions in greater detail:

  • Declutter the house. When a potential buyer comes to look at the house, the last thing he or she wants to see are cluttered rooms. If necessary, rent a storage unit to temporarily store some of your belongings. (read our article “Staging tips for home sellers” for more information. )
  • Ask your realtor for helping staging your home, or hire a professional stager, and have an experienced photographer take great shots of your house and property. Whether buyers are looking online or in person, you only get one chance to make a good first impression.
  • Hire the right Realtor to represent you. Ask family and friends for recommendations, and then conduct interviews. Make sure you select a Realtor that you are comfortable dealing with and has firsthand knowledge of your neighborhood and community.
  • Price it right. Your Realtor should do his or her homework and determine a priced based on current market conditions and comparable housing sales … not guesswork.
  • Spread the word. Do you use social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram? If so, use these platforms to promote your home sale to your friends, family, colleagues and neighbors.
  • Remove personal items from the house. Potential buyers want to picture themselves in the house, not you and your family. If your home is filled with personal items and family photos, it’s best to put them away until you’ve found a new home for them.
  • Make small repairs and upgrades. Go through every room in the house and see if there are one or two things that need attention and are also a quick fix. And don’t forget to give each room a good cleaning. Dirt and odors will scare away many potential buyers.
  • Bright is good! Add some high-wattage lightbulbs and, if possible, apply a fresh coat of paint using a light and neutral color.
  • Don’t neglect the outside. Depending on the time of year, make sure the lawn is freshly mowed and the trees and bushes are trimmed of overgrowth. In the winter months, make sure the driveway and walkways are cleared of ice and snow.
  • You can often help the process move quickly by setting a hard deadline for offers. If buyers truly like the house, they will likely come in with a strong first offer.
  • Offer some incentives such as including the appliances in the sale, or maybe a flat screen television or the lawnmower and snowblower.

As you can see, there are many answers to the question, “How can I sell my house fast?” In the end, much of it depends on how well you and your Realtor prepare and market the house. For more information on how we can help, please contact The Olear Team today.

Should you freeze your credit if you fear a data breach?

One of the most important steps in purchasing a house is obtaining a mortgage, and to get the most competitive interest rate, it helps to have a strong credit score. But in today’s world — when reports of confidential data being breached are commonplace on the nightly newscasts — how can we ensure a strong credit rating?

The massive Equifax data breach, which exposed the personal information of millions of U.S. consumers, is just one recent example of personal data being stolen by online hackers. And if a large company like Equifax can’t protect this information, how can we be expected to safeguard our data?

One step would be to freeze your credit. A credit freeze prevents creditors from accessing your credit report, claims the Federal Trade Commission. It also prevents credit, loans and other unwanted services from being approved in your name without your consent, and it does not affect your credit score. Basically, it limits the number of individuals who can see your credit report to you, existing creditors, debt collectors and certain government agencies.

Are there drawbacks associated with a credit freeze? Yes, there are. For example, if you freeze your credit and a creditor needs to access your credit report for reasons such as financing a home or vehicle, then you will need to temporarily unfreeze your account, which can take up to three business days. Additionally, there are usually some small fees involved when freezing your credit which vary from state to state.

While you may never know for certain if your confidential data has been breached, you should probably assume that it has been at some point. That being said, if you decide to freeze your credit, you’ll need to contact the leading credit reporting companies such as Equifax, Experian, TransUnion and Innovis to initiate the process. 

For more information, please check out this recent article from USA Today: https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2017/09/13/how-freeze-your-credit-protect-your-identity/657304001/.
Knowing the rights of an executor of an estate

Knowing the rights of an executor of an estate

By agreeing to become executor of an estate, an individual is taking on many responsibilities. As a result, the executor also has many legal right to help him or her successfully complete their task, which can be both time-consuming and difficult. Following are some rights of an executor of an estate.

  • The executor of a will is, first and foremost, responsible for managing the entire estate of a deceased individual. This includes everything from wrapping up financial affairs (such as paying outstanding bills and taxes) to making sure that the wishes outlined in the will are fulfilled.
  • All actions taken by the executor must follow the probate rules of the governing state. Please note that those rules do vary from state to state, as do the rights of an executor of an estate.
  • An executor must ensure the decedent’s assets are safeguarded throughout the process. This includes property as well as all financial assets. Therefore, the executor has the right to obtain all information related to the deceased’s assets, including investments.
  • The individual named as the executor of an estate also has the right to decline the position or even quit during the process if necessary. This would require approval of the probate court judge.
  • An executor has the right to hire accountants, attorneys and other professionals, as needed, to ensure that the estate is properly managed
  • And finally, an executor has the right to be compensated for his or her work on behalf of the estate. Compensation laws also vary from state to state and can be a percentage of the overall estate or even an hourly rate.

If you have been named an executor in a will and accept the responsibilities of that role, you should make it a point to understand the rights of an executor of an estate before beginning the process. Consulting with an experienced Realtor or estate attorney is often a good first step. For more information, please do not hesitate to contact The Olear Team.

Breaking down the home buying process

Breaking down the home buying process

Searching for and eventually purchasing a home can be a very exciting time in anyone’s life. But before you actually begin the home buying process, there are a few things you should know. Here are some practical tips from The Olear Team:

The home buying process

  • Save for a down payment. You’ll want to have some money set aside in your savings account to put toward your down payment on a house. The general rule of thumb is a down payment of approximately 20 percent. That can vary, so be sure to consult with an experienced Realtor.
  • Work on your credit score. The higher your credit score, the better the loan rate. A small difference in your mortgage loan interest rate can either save or cost you a lot of money over the life of your loan.
  • Select a real estate agent. Your Realtor will be your representative, so choose an agent you are very comfortable working with. A good place to start is by asking friends and family members for referrals. A strong professional relationship with your Realtor can truly make or break the home buying process.
  • Look for a loan/lender. Your Realtor should be able to make recommendations, but it’s up to you to decide on the type of mortgage (fixed rate or adjustable rate, for example), and the term (15- and 30-year mortgages are two popular options). The interest rate on a fixed-rate mortgage will never change, and a fixed-rate mortgage is a popular choice if you plan on staying in the home for many years. An adjustable-rate mortgage will fluctuate, but it may be a better option if you’re only planning on staying in your home for a couple of years.
  • Get pre-approved for your mortgage. Doing so will allow you to know exactly what you can afford and will also make you a stronger buyer in the eyes of the seller.
  • Decide on a location. Where do you want to live? Once you have decided on a community or neighborhood, begin to search online, make comparisons and make appointments to see the homes through your Realtor. 
  • Decide on a style of home. What’s best for your living situation and lifestyle? Depending on your personal circumstances, it could be anything from a small one-story ranch to a large Colonial with lots of bedrooms and bathrooms for lots of kids. 
  • Make an offer. Once you’ve checked off all the boxes above, you can finally feel comfortable making an offer on the home of your dreams. This will also be done through your Realtor.

The home buying process is fun and exciting … but it also requires some homework on your part. If you need more information, please contact The Olear Team today!