Help for the overwhelmed executor


Dear David,

I’m the executor of a friend’s estate and have been tasked with selling their home, where they lived for 40 plus years. This is a huge undertaking. The house is full of personal items, furniture and collectibles, and I’m not sure which ones are valuable. How do I extract the most value from the estate so it can be passed on to the heirs? – UNSURE

DEAR UNSURE: I’m sorry that you lost your friend and can appreciate that this must feel daunting. I’ve worked with dozens of clients in similar situations. One thing I always try to express is that an executor should think of themselves as a project manager, and not try to take on everything themselves.

Once the items listed in the will have been dispersed to family and friends, it’s up to the executor to decide what to do with the remaining contents of the house if the will provides no clear direction. As the executor, you’re not expected to look through every closet, cupboard and shoebox on your own. In cases where the house is quite full, I suggest hiring a professional auction company to sort through the house and determine what has value. They’ll sell what they can and dispose of the rest. Because they are paid according to how much they sell, they’re experts at maximizing value.

Ten years ago, it would have been normal for an auction company to come into a house, load up the contents, and take everything back to the auction house. From there they would arrange the items into lots and sell them off at their weekly public auctions.

The pandemic seems to have put a new twist on this process by it into the digital age. Today’s specialists come to the house, sort through the contents, categorize items into lots, take photos, and prepare the goods for online sale. Auction companies are excellent at marketing and send out the details to the large databases of people who subscribe to their listings.

Items are set up inside the house for a couple of weeks before the sale. Buyers can preview them online or make an appointment to see them in person. Once the online auction begins, it often lasts for about a week. When it wraps up, the auction company will arrange payment, schedule buyer pickup and leave the property broom swept and tidy.

This process is efficient but tends to last for several weeks, so get started as soon as possible. You can prepare for the home sale in parallel, as it is going through probate (if necessary).

PRO TIP: Many executors (often family members) feel this is the time to renovate a loved one’s home. I’ve seen families put in months of hard work, quite often with little benefit. Keep your project manager’s hat on and consult with the experts. Your Realtor can help you decide what needs to be done to draw the most value out of the home. #Advice #AskDavid #TheNegotiator

David is a top-selling Broker in Kitchener-Waterloo Region. He works personally with you when selling or buying your home. Call or text today for your free home evaluation! 519-577-1212.