In California, if you have been named the executor of an estate, you may have many questions, such as can an executor sell the decedent’s home? Although you will handle the administration of the estate, there is one thing you must understand, first and foremost: You do not automatically have the authority to carry out the terms of the will. You must first be appointed by the court. This requires filing a petition for probate, after which a court order will be issued by the Probate Court naming you as the executor.
Whether the decedent or whether the court names you the executor of a will, it’s best that you wait until you have official sanction from the court in the form of a court order before you act on any terms of the will.
What are Your Duties as Executor?
In your role as executor, your duty is to exercise skill and reasonable care in all dealings related to the property, including a heightened fiduciary duty. Your actions in administering the estate must be carried out for the benefit of the beneficiaries, and not in your own best interests.
You May Need to be Bonded
The property you will be managing as executor of an estate in California ultimately belongs to the beneficiaries. You will likely have to be bonded to protect the estate. It’s essential that you are familiar with what your obligations are under the bond and to the estate. The purpose of the bond is to replace the value of the estate in the event the property under your care is lost or loses its value. Additionally, the bonding company may pursue reimbursement from you for the loss if they determine this was caused by your negligence.
Request Full Powers from the Court
As executor of a will, you have the authority for gathering, liquidating, and distributing property. So, can an executor sell the decedent’s home? Presumably, yes. However, according to California Law, you must obtain court permission. One way to avoid the time and great expense of repeated courthouse proceedings is to request to be granted “full powers” from the court. Obtaining full powers will:
- Facilitate transference of the decedent’s home and other significant assets,
- Save a great deal of time and estate resources, and
- Reduce the number of court orders required to fulfill your obligations as executor.
Appraisal of Property
Also, as executor of a will, taking an inventory of all property the decedent had an interest in is among your first duties. A probate appraiser will be appointed by the court. The duty of the probate appraiser is to affix a value to all of the estate property. After your appointment as executor, you only have 120 days in which to file both the inventory and appraisal–it is important that you act within a timely manner.
Distribution to Beneficiaries
Another crucial step in your role as executor is to remember that express approval of the court is required before you transfer any property to any beneficiary. Even if there is a sole beneficiary and even if that beneficiary is suffering some type of hardship, you must wait until the court’s approval to distribute estate assets.
Jointly Held Real Estate
A decedent’s real estate that is held by joint tenants who have rights of survivorship will bypass the probate process. Homeownership would pass automatically to the surviving owner.
Contact The Legacy Lawyers, P.C.
At The Legacy Lawyers, P.C., we have the expertise and experience to answer all of your questions regarding probate, estates, trusts, wills, and carrying out your duties as executor of a will. Many questions are complex, including can an executor sell the decedent’s home. We are here to help you and your family as you go through the legal processes involved with distributing a decedent’s property. Contact The Legacy Lawyers today by calling (800) 840-1998.