Executing A Will: From A REALTOR’s Perspective

Recently, my mother Joan Knight passed away at the age of 91. My mother did many things to prepare for the end of her life: one was having a Will; the other was having Powers of Attorney in place for finances and medical care. As well, over that last 10 years of her life Joan wound done her assets, selling her home and moving into a seniors’ retirement building.  She also transferred ownership of the cottage to her 5 adult children.

Not everyone can disperse of assets prior to death but my mother was lucky, or perhaps the children were the lucky ones, as our mother had a healthy survivor’s pension that allowed her to distribute many of her assets to the children prior to her death.

I was one of two Executors; my younger brother was the second one.

As a REALTOR®, I have worked with many families selling their parent’s home on behalf of the estate. Typically the challenge of selling a home held by the estate is too many executors with varying opinions of what the home is worth, how they should negotiate, and who to list with. It doesn’t surprise her that at one of the most difficult times in the children’s lives family issues surface. Sometimes I think I should be a trained mediator as well as a REALTOR®!

When my mother was in her early 80’s (soon after I started in real estate) I asked her whom she had named as her Power of Attorney and Executor. I was surprised that my mother had named all 5 of the children!  Needless to say I cringed at the mayhem that would result in.  I advised her to reduce the number of people named in these important documents.

Having only the two Executors named in her Will definitely made settling the estate much easier.  As one of only two executors, I’m not sure 5 executors would have been able to settle the estate as quickly as the two of us were able to complete the long list of tasks.  If there had been real estate to sell or other assets the settling of affairs might have been overly cumbersome and I am sure the skeletons in the closet would have trotted out just like many of the deals I have worked on as a REALTOR® sitting on the other side of the table working on behalf of the executors!

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