How to Hire an Executor. For your loved one’s estate or your will.

E275 US Professional Executor for Federal Transfer Certificates

E275 US Professional Executor for Federal Transfer Certificates


Many non-US heirs need a professional executor to get federal transfer certificates.

What is a federal transfer certificate?

It is an IRS document, specifically, Form 5173. It is used to confirm through the IRS that there is no estate tax due, or it’s already been paid. The certificate allows the financial institution off the hook for taxes.

In absence of this, they can be liable! For example, lets’ say E*Trade has a brokerage account for a decedent who was a non-resident, non-citizen. If any tax was owed, but E*Trade releases the funds prior to the tax being paid, then E*Trade owes the IRS those taxes. This transfer certificate is the IRS’s way of letting E*Trade know that it is safe to release the funds to the executor or heirs. Because of this liability, banks and brokerages will not release the money without this certificate.

When is a federal transfer certificate required?

First, the decedent should be a non-resident alien (NRA). Second, the decedent’s assets must be US assets: stocks, real estate (but not bonds, cash, checking account, etc.).

The executor must send the certificate to the financial institution, or else the bank cannot and will not release funds.

If estate is large enough that it requires a federal estate tax return (706NA), just file the return instead using the federal transfer certificate. After filing the federal estate tax return, you will receive a closing letter from the IRS stating that they agree with your return and that the matter is closed. You can take the closing letter to the bank, and they will release the funds without the federal transfer certificate. You do not need to do both.

Recently, we’ve found that some institutions interpret to mean that if there there is a US professional executor (as opposed to a foreign executor), then no federal transfer certificate is needed. Hurray! Right? Unfortunately, this is usually not the case. Even if the law has changed, most financial institutions have not caught up. They are still requiring federal transfer certificates.

But, even if a federal transfer certificate isn’t required, the US executor is personally liable for estate tax. For that same reason, I, as a professional US executor, will not release the funds until I have filed the estate tax return. I will apply for the tax clearance anyway, so it’s really just a similar situation with the same result. Somebody has to make sure the taxes are paid so it doesn’t come back to hurt them later on.

How to get a federal transfer certificate

How to get a federal transfer certificate

There are detailed instructions on the IRS website: https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/transfer-certificate-filing-requirements-for-the-estates-of-nonresidents-not-citizens-of-the-united-states

The application information for the federal transfer certificate is substantially similar to the estate tax return (706NA).

The IRS website says it can take 6 weeks to 6 months to respond to the application for certificate. However, as we know, it has been taking much longer these days. We have discussed previously about the numerous IRS delays, and as a result, the turnaround time is  unpredictable. It could take years, unfortunately.

We trying to set the expectations as realistically as possible. Even if we file immediately, it won’t move the IRS any faster. This can be very frustrating, especially for the heirs.

If you want to learn more about professional executorship, especially if you are in another country, my book “How to Hire an Executor” will help shed more light on the topic.

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E271 Non-Professional with Probate Real Estate


Today we describe some real-world examples of mistakes made by non-professional executors dealing with probate real estate.

Making it personal with tenants

Often times, a non-professional executor is a family member or friend who has too much history with the tenants.

Making it personal with tenants

For example, one of our executors helped the decedent in her final years and felt that the tenants were taking advantage of the decedent (late paying rent, not cleaning up after themselves, poor property upkeep, etc.). So, when the decedent passed, the executor has lots of bones to pick with the tenants: where the tenants parked, the condition of property, etc.

If tenants want to be difficult, they can make probate very difficult. As we’ve talked about before, it can be very hard to get rid of bad tenants in probate, so picking a fight isn’t helpful. For the sake of probate, it’s often best to let it go and move on.

In our example, the executor got into huge fight with tenants and the tenants called the police. A huge production was made, and we had to spend months in litigation to get them to vacate.

When a professional executor is involved, he or she doesn’t have that blood-boiling history with tenants. A benefit of hiring a professional executor is that we don’t get emotionally invested.

Knowing what renovations are worth doing

Knowing what renovations are worth doing

In the past, we’ve discussed certain renovations that almost always make sense (Episode 254: Best Renovations to do Before Selling Probate Real Estate) These include a fresh coat of paint, cleaning out the home, etc.

We recently had an executor who believed the decedent’s home was fine to sell as-is. Let me tell you that the place was not fine. But the executor had the position that if “it was good enough for my aunt to live there, it’s good enough for buyers.” Perhaps it was something sentimental to her that the house looked a certain way, but that’s not what buyers are looking for.

Because of this, the executor declined even a basic paint job. It is almost certainly going to be a struggle to sell.

Choosing the right broker

Choosing the right broker is tricky, even with a normal sale. You need to pick the right fit for the property and the right demeanor as a seller. Of course, it’s even harder in probate.

Choosing the right broker

Even if you find an excellent broker for the neighborhood, you also need someone who understands probate issues. For example, I am dealing with a situation where neither the buyer’s broker nor the seller’s broker understood that the seller was in probate. So, the day before closing, they said they “need something called Letters Testamentary before we can proceed.” Only then did they learn that the heirs were not in agreement, so there was no property to be sold! It was a huge waste of everyone’s time.

That was an extreme situation, but there are many other nuance situations where if you don’t have a broker experienced with probate, time and money are wasted.

For example, we have an executor who hired the dreaded “friend” broker. Friend brokers can be great, but this is not the time to repay favors to a friend via estate work. Estates are complicated already. The second problem was that the broker was from out of state and didn’t understand local customs. Third, the broker listed the home at a high price. In probate, you want to sell fast, but listing at a high price psychologically pegged the executor’s mind to that unrealistic number. A probate-experienced broker would avoid that situation. High prices turn away buyers who know the area and know that the seller has unrealistic expectations.

When an offer finally came in, the out-of-state broker prepared a binding contract and had the executor sign it. (In New York, a lawyer usually prepares or reviews the contract, because there are a lot of nuances that can cause disadvantages and risk). As a result, this executor unknowingly made some big concessions and promises she didn’t need to make.

These are things we’ve seen a lot lately. We share these scenarios to help you avoid future problems and consider the importance of hiring a professional executor. If you are interested in learning more, please check out my book called, “How to Hire an Executor,” available on Amazon.

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E270 3 Bitcoin Wallets Executors Overlook

E270 3 Bitcoin Wallets Executors Overlook


When someone passes away, it is the executor’s job to gather the decedent’s assets. What are the Bitcoin wallets executors may overlook? We’ve discussed how to look for common bitcoin key storage (Episode 253 3 Steps When a Bitcoin Owner Dies), such as hardware wallets, software wallets, and seed phrases. But a professional bitcoin executor will also find these others.

Wallets on nodes

Wallets on nodes

Think of a node as your own server on the bitcoin network. Bitcoin is a digital currency, and the way it travels through the world is through nodes. Nodes are intentionally inexpensive and meant for individuals to be able to afford and maintain. Nodes are meant for the individuals to be the backbone of the system, not big companies.

If a professional bitcoin executor sees the decedent was serious about bitcoin, privacy, and decentralization, the executor knows to look for a node. These nodes can even be on a Raspberry Pi or an old laptop, as long as there is sufficient memory space. Why look there? Because these nodes will often have a wallet inside them.

Lightning channels

Lightning channels

On a high level, the lightning network is a second layer on top of the main bitcoin network. The lightning layer relies on “channels” between lightning nodes.

Say you use Vemno, and you are hanging out with your friend for dinner. Maybe you owe her $5 for the drink and she owes you $10 for dinner. Venmo is not actually transmitting money back and forth each time you do. Venmo keeps a tally of what is moving back and forth between you, and at the end of the day/week/month, it totals a net amount of dollars to be transmitted from your bank to your friend’s bank (or vice versa). Think of it like an abacus where you move the beads back and forth. Here, the main network is the banks and Venmo is the connector/second layer. Venmo has to hold some money to make sure those transactions happen.

Similarly, if you and I transact with bitcoin, we’re not going to send bitcoin to each other every time. We could set up a lightning channel between us. Let’s say we regularly send $100 between ourselves, so we probably have a channel with about $500. That $500 is locked into the lightning channel between us.

Upon my passing, my executor should close the channel and find out what is owed you and to my estate. A professional bitcoin executor will recognize a lightning wallet, and search for node to close channels to release channel funds.

The example of $500 may not seem like a lot of money. But, if the channel was established a while ago, and bitcoin has gone up in value, it might have a significant value.

Hopefully I got this right. If you are more technically savvy in cryptocurrency, please feel free to correct me!

Alternative exchanges

Alternative exchanges

We’ve talked about the main exchanges before. Nowadays, even non-Bitcoin enthusiasts have heard of Binance, Coinbase, Kraken, and other large exchanges.

There are even more alternative exchanges that focus on privacy, international exchange, etc. They may not even be companies, but decentralized software. A professional bitcoin executor will also recognize alternative exchanges and know how to recover funds on alt exchanges such as Bisq or HodlHodl.

This topic is constantly evolving, and we will try our best to keep you up to date. Please send us your questions and we will do our best to respond!

If you want to learn more about professional executors, please check out my book, “How to Hire an Executor.”

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E267 Why They Want a Professional Executor

E267 Why They Want a Professional Executor


Our clients want a professional executor for many reasons. Most commonly they have no heirs, or their family lives abroad. But those aren’t the only reasons. We’ll share a few recent examples of why clients want a professional executor.

19 Heirs!

19 Heirs!

Mr. and Mrs. K. are in their 70s, and they want a professional executor for when they pass. They have 19 nieces and nephews as heirs, scattered across the US. Mr. And Mrs. K. do not want to choose from the 19 heirs for a couple of reasons.

First, they don’t want to sow discord by singling out one heir to be executor. When just 1 out of 19 has more authority or power, the others may become jealous or suspicious.

Secondly, Mr. And Mrs. K. know what probate can be like from past experiences. They understand that having 19 heirs across a dozen states is going to be a headache for the executor. Even having two heirs in different states is a hassle, especially when original wet signatures are required on certain documents. Having a professional executor is beneficial Mr. and Mrs. K.’s of situation.

Son cannot manage own finances

Son cannot manage own finances

People from all walks of life can benefit from hiring a professional executor, not just Solo Agers. For example, Mr. and Mrs. J. have an adult son who, for various reasons, has not taken flight from the nest. Although the son doesn’t live at home, Mr. and Mrs. J. financially support him, including paying his rent.

Understandably, Mr. And Mrs. J. don’t feel comfortable having their son handle their estate. Since he is financially dependent on his parents, Mr. and Mrs. J. need a professional trustee to continue to manage funds and financially support their son when they’re gone.

Executorship would be too much

Some clients don’t want to burden a loved one with the responsibilities of executorship. Ms. H. is single mom with 2 adult daughters. One daughter lives in Europe, so it is unrealistic for her to be the executor. The other daughter lives nearby, but she is busy raising her 3 young kids.

Executorship would be too much

It is simply not realistic to ask either daughter to execute an estate, given distance and everyday business of their own lives. Being an executor is a whole job on top of whatever job(s) you already have in life. As we’ve discussed many times, the probate process can be long and difficult. Not understanding the documents and requirements of probate adds to the difficulty of administering an estate. Let alone, dragging 3 small children with you to the banks!

These are all great reasons for considering a professional executor. If you want to learn more about how a professional executor can help, check out my book, “How to Hire an Executor,” available on Amazon.

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E263 Not All Lawyers are Good Executors

E263 Not All Lawyers are Good Executors


There are many excellent probate lawyers who would be terrible executors. Why? Let’s break down what you need to have to be a professional executor.

The right support team

The right support team

Probating an estate takes a LOT of hours. It is not reasonable for those hours to be charged on an attorney’s billable time; your estate will go broke in no time. Some lawyers who are just starting out might do everything on their own, but that’s a recipe for burning out quickly.

The attorney must have well-trained, experienced paralegals and support staff. This is a huge asset for an executor while carrying out their duties over a period of months or even years. We’ve had some clients ask if they can just hire the paralegals! Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite work that way.

Think technically, not strategically

Think technically, not strategically

Some probate lawyers tend to think more technically, not strategically. That’s not a bad thing; competent probate lawyers will know the steps to get from point A to point B.

But sometimes the question is, SHOULD we be trying to get to point B? You may need to step back and see the bigger picture. A good executor thinks strategically and sees around corners.

For example, a good lawyer knows which forms to send out to complete the court probate package. A good executor also knows which forms to use but also knows that some forms alarm heirs and cause them to clam up. A good executor won’t just send out the forms to the heirs but will take the time to explain the forms and walk the heirs through the process.

Pessimists make good lawyers

Pessimists make good lawyers

Lawyers are supposed to expect the worst, it helps them to draft all those contract clauses to prepare for worst case scenarios. But such pessimism may paralyze an executor, who has a duty to reasonably keep the probate estate moving forward. The executor’s job isn’t to make sure that nothing bad ever happens, but to keep the process going to get the checks into the hands of the heirs. The mindset is a bit of a balancing act.

A good executor will be aware of the downsides, because they could be personally liable for things that go wrong. But the executor should be able to weigh the situation and embrace whatever solutions are available to keep things moving. There is a difference between being aware that something bad could happen and being crippled by the possibility.

A good example of this is closing an estate with an accounting reserve. Meaning, you’re 95% sure the estate is ready to close, and you are ready to get the checks to the heirs. But there is a 5% chance that could be a tax issue or creditor. Since the executor is personally liable, it’s tempting for him not to make any distributions until he is sure that there are no issues. One solution is to close the estate but hang on to a reserve amount to handle any possible problems. This will move things forward to settle the estate.

Hopefully this will help you identify what kind of executor you want for your will. If you decide to hire a professional executor, call them and interview them before making the decision. To learn more, check out my book, “How to Hire an Executor,” available on Amazon.

 

E259 Professional Executor for Non-US Heirs

E259 Professional Executor for Non-US Heirs


Hiring a professional executor is particularly useful for non-US heirs. Most state rules make it tough for you to be a US executor if you are not from or currently living the US.

US Executor Qualifications

US Executor Qualifications

Many states outright prohibit non-US citizens or residents from being a US executor. Some states are a bit more nuanced. New York allows a non-citizen to be executor, but only if they’re also a New York resident. You must prove that you are a New York resident not only when applying for executorship, but also whenever you are acting as the executor.

For example, we have a non-US citizen heir who moved to New York for the purpose of being an executor. Then in the past two years, he moved out of state. When he tried to use his letters at the co-op, the co-op would not accept his letters because he was no longer a New York resident. In order for your letters to be valid, you must stay a New York resident.

Can you be a US executor if you live abroad?

Can you be a US executor if you live abroad?

Sometimes it can be done, but it’s challenging. New York may allow it, but only if you have a US co-executor. This is a pain because it means more paperwork during probate. For anything that requires a signature, you’re basically doing the work twice. If you are overseas, you’d have to go to an apostille or a consulate. Just the postage alone to sign each document can be quite expensive.

Further, even if the court allows it, you now have an overseas co-executor who has to get US notarizations, which is often a frustrating process. And more, the co-executor may even have to fly into New York for mundane tasks. You’d think that in 2022, you’d be able to accomplish these tasks online or over the phone. Nope. There are a surprising number of tasks that require in-person visits. Banks and co-ops are two of the biggest culprits.

We have a situation where a retail store in Colorado is part of the estate. The store security system won’t speak to the executor, unless it is in-person. Also, the bank in Colorado requires an in-person visit to close the decedent’s account.

What if the non-US court has appointed an Executor?

What if the non-US court has appointed an Executor?

Many ask: what if I’m a non-US citizen, non-resident, but I’m the court appointed executor in Spain, England, etc. of an estate with US assets? Then, can I be a US executor?

No, because the probate procedure will be slightly different. It’s called “ancillary probate.” All of the rules of about citizenship and residency discussed above still apply. Even if you are a citizen/resident of Spain and are appointed there, you still need a US co-executor. Better yet, hire a professional US executor to collect the US assets.

Because of the complexity of being a non-US citizen executor, people seek our help to make the process much easier. We work with international heirs often, and we are familiar with administering these types of estates.

If you want to learn more about professional executors, check out my book, “How to Hire an Executor,” available on Amazon.

E252 What Happens if Your Professional Executor Dies

E252 What Happens if Your Professional Executor Dies?


Listener, Raymond, asks: “What happens to your clients if you die? By you, I mean Anthony S. Park. Who is your backup?” He posted this question on a professional executor video, so we’ll answer in the context of me being a professional executor as opposed to being an attorney.

Thanks for your question, Raymond.

Can an executor transfer his duties?

Can an executor transfer his duties?

If you name me as your professional executor, can I delegate my duties to someone else? No, the roles of a fiduciary (trustee, executor, etc.) are non-delegable. So, if I die, I can’t just say that my spouse, or paralegal, or law partner can take over.

Why not? Because it’s not my choice as to who should be your executor – you chose me for a reason. It’s not up to me to grab one of my colleagues to step in; there’s more to it than that. It should be your choice.

By the way, this is not a limitation to just professional executors; this applies to any executor. The same principals apply if you name a spouse, nephew, or friend – they can’t just pass it along to someone else.

Can you have a backup executor?

Can you have a backup executor?

Yes, you can and should name a successor in your will or trust. In your will, the appointment of a successor executor will be in the same or following paragraph where you nominate me as executor. For example, “I appoint Anthony S. Park as my executor, but if he cannot fulfill his duties, then I name __________ as my successor executor.”

I recommend naming at least one successor executor, but no more than three. You need at least one back-up, but any more than three just feels like overplanning. I’ve had clients come in with a depth chart of up to seven successors. It’s very unlikely that you’d get to the point where you need the seventh executor. That would be like a plane-crash involving all of the other executors! Naming that many people will probably cause more stress than you realize. Plus, if you’ve chosen your executors wisely, you won’t need such a long list. It is important to review your will every four years to make sure you’ve chosen your executors are still fit to act, if needed.

What happens when a lawyer dies?

What happens when a lawyer dies?

I am both a licensed attorney and a professional executor. Like most good lawyers, I have backup counsel, as recommended by ethics rules and as required by my insurance carrier.

I have a “notify in case of death” colleague who will take over my files in case I die. This doesn’t necessarily mean that he or she will be your attorney, but at least they can notify you that I passed. You could then keep the file with my colleague or retain new counsel.

This is the same process for me as a professional executor. If something happens to me, you will be notified. As you may know, I have annual check-in phone calls with clients who’ve named me as their executor. We call to get updates from you, but also partly so you know that I’m still here! It’s a two-way street. If you haven’t heard from me in a year or two, you may need to make sure I’m still around!

Again, we appreciate Raymond’s question, and we encourage others to submit their questions, as well.

If you want to learn more about professional executors, check out my book, “How to Hire an Executor,” available on Amazon.

 

E249 Annual Professional Executor Checklist

E249 Annual Professional Executor Checklist


When you name me as your professional executor or trustee, we have an annual “check-in” call or email to make sure I’m up to date on your plan and wishes.

We’ll review below what we chat about during our annual check-in.

But first, why annually? As your executor and potential witness if your will is contested, it’s useful for me to be familiar not just with a snapshot of your wishes upon your death, but the trajectory of your wishes.

For example, it helps me to track that year after year your niece was gaining your favor. Maybe she only made phone calls in the beginning, then she sent Christmas cards to you, and ultimately, she finally started visiting you. At each annual check-in, you talk about her more and more. On the flip side, if every year you report the same thing about your niece and she contests your will, then I’ll know what that relationship was like if I have to testify in court.

1. Are you alive?

Are you alive?

If you answer our check in call each year, then we’ll know you’re alive! Of course, we care more than whether you are dead or alive. We’ll ask about your health and check to see if there are any signs of capacity issues. For example, are you becoming frailer each year? Perhaps you might need a trust or other sort of estate planning advice.

2. Does your plan still reflect your wishes?

Does your plan still reflect your wishes?

Does your plan still reflect who you want as your beneficiaries? Are any of your beneficiaries dead or incapacitated since we chatted last? Perhaps there is now someone you would like to cut out of your will or maybe a beneficiary is no longer worthy of an outright inheritance. Maybe your nephew is now a drug addict or gambling addict, and you need to put his share into a trust because you still want to give him something, just not all at once. Maybe one of your beneficiaries is now in a nursing home, and you want to make sure her share is protected (not counted as an available asset).

3. Have your assets changed?

Have your assets changed

Have you bought or sold anything major? As your professional executor, I need to collect and distribute your property after your death. It would definitely help me to know that your summer home in the Poconos has been sold or maybe you bought a big piece of land in Montana.

Also, are you significantly richer or poorer than when we last checked in? Did your crypto crash or your Bitcoin pop? There is a cost-benefit analysis involved, and the size of your estate plays a big role in that.

4. Do your assets still have correct titles and beneficiaries?

Do your assets still have correct titles and beneficiaries

If you have a trust, you probably want a good number of assets to be no longer owned by you personally, but rather owned by the trust. Is that trust paperwork in place with the bank?

Even if you don’t have a trust, do you have beneficiaries on your accounts? Have you named who automatically gets your 401(k), life insurance, IRA, brokerage account, etc.? It’s important to make sure the correct person is named. Is your old girlfriend from ten years ago still listed as the beneficiary?

As a caveat, we generally don’t recommend structuring your estate plan with beneficiary designations. There are many problems with that approach, and you can check out this link to learn more. If you do have beneficiary designations, we’ll make sure the designations are at least reasonably accurate.

5. Are we still a good match?

 

Are we still a good match

The last thing we’ll check is if you and I are still a good match. Do we still like each other, and do we still trust each other? Am I still young and fresh and up to date on estate administration? Or maybe when I am older, you’ll want a younger professional executor. I mean, you should have an executor who is likely to survive you! Does my style of doing things match the way you want things done?

There is no right or wrong answer.

The check-in is usually a 15- or 20-minute phone call, or even a few emails back and forth. The check-in helps us keep in touch over the years and gives me a better picture of your wishes each time.

If you want to learn more about professional executors, check out my book, “How to Hire an Executor,” available on Amazon.

 

E244 Who Should Have the Original Will

E244 Who Should Have the Original Will?


So, you finally did it: you made and signed your will. Now, where do you store the original? We get this question a lot from Solo Agers, particularly those who have named me as executor in their wills.

Can you keep your will at home?

Can you keep your will at home?

It’s not a good idea, even if you have a fireproof box or filing cabinet. The big drawback (at least in New York) is the legal presumption of intentional revocation. Meaning, if you lose the original (in absence of evidence), the court will assume that you intentionally destroyed it.

If you store it with the court, lawyer, or executor, they do not have the right to revoke your will. If your executor loses your will, they can still potentially probate a copy of your will.

Storing your will in a safe deposit box is a bad idea. Getting into someone’s safe deposit box after death can be a pain. That pain is compounded if the will that authorizes your executor to access the safe deposit box is in the safe deposit box!

Does probate court keep original will?

Yes, there is a mechanism called “filing a will for safekeeping” in the New York courts. You go to your local county surrogate’s court and pay a fee of $45.00. They will keep it in the court’s vault.

Does probate court keep original will?

The benefit of filing a will with the court is that it’s a centralized process. One of the first things we do when we probate an estate is to check with the court to see if they have the will.

However, there are two major cons: 1) A publicly filed will is a semi-public record. This doesn’t mean that anyone can walk in and look at it. Rather, suppose you make a new will years after you filed your first will with the court. Maybe you forgot you ever filed the first will, and now your executor is probating your subsequent will, which names different beneficiaries. Your executor may need to notify the beneficiaries of the first will. This is probably not the case if you didn’t file your will with the court. 2) Another drawback is: which court do you file it with? What if you file it in Manhattan, but then you move to Long Island? Probate occurs where you die. If the will isn’t stored in that court, then the benefit of checking the court for the will doesn’t exist anymore.

Do lawyers keep original wills?

Do lawyers keep original wills?

Yes, some lawyers offer fireproof storage for wills, trusts, and other client documents. Most do not charge a fee for this. Not all lawyers offer to hold wills due to the risk involved. As mentioned above, if the lawyer loses your will, the executor should still be able to probate a copy.

Should I give my will to the executor?

Should I give my will to the executor?

Generally, the answer is no. However, a professional executor lawyer is set up to safely store your will. Most amateur executors (family, friends) are not set up and have the same issues as you for where to store it.

To find out more on this topic, check out my book, “How to Hire an Executor,” available on Amazon.

 

E243 Heir Won’t Leave the House

E243 Heir Won’t Leave the House


When one of the heirs won’t leave the family home, what can you do? It’s a pretty common situation. For example, mom passes away leaving three adult children. One adult son was living with her when she passed away, and he doesn’t want to leave.

Why heir won’t leave

Why heir won’t leave

The top reason is pretty straightforward: it’s like having free or reduced rent. Sometimes there’s the feeling of entitlement. As in, “I was the one taking care of mom during her last years, so what’s the big deal if I stay in the house?”

Then, there’s that litany of “dog ate my homework” type of excuses: I have an injury and can’t move right now; I don’t want to move my kids in the middle of the school year; I’m too busy to deal with a move, etc. We’re not saying these excuses are justifiable, we’re just saying that we’ve heard it all!

Can you evict an heir?

The short answer is yes, but it is an uphill battle. Evictions generally tough. You deal with notice requirements, assumptions that tenants have rights, extensions, etc. It could take many months to years to evict a tenant in a normal situation. Add to that, the complication that the heir is partial owner. In our example where mom passed away with three surviving children, that adult son is still an heir to one-third of the estate, even if he leaves the home. So, now it’s psychologically more than just evicting a tenant, it’s evicting a one-third owner.

Can you evict an heir?

In addition to a frustrating situation, evicting your sibling is probably pretty awkward! (“Happy Thanksgiving, sister; pass the turkey. And oh, yeah – here’s your eviction notice”). A situation like this can devastate families. A professional tip to avoid the awkwardness is to use someone else as the “bad guy,” such as a realtor or professional executor. If the home is a condo or part of a homeowner’s association, maybe make a call to the manager to discuss the eviction. If this works, it can save a lot of money in legal fees. The quicker the eviction is taken care of, the less money wasted. It’s expensive to let someone reside in a home for “free.”

How to buy out heirs

How to buy out heirs

More often than you’d think, the resolution is to pay the heir to leave. It doesn’t feel great to pay someone who is supposed to leave anyway but take a look at the cost-benefit analysis. It might be cheaper than the headaches, legal fees, mortgage payments, etc. As much as you might not want to pay him, it’s probably the best solution. It could also make those Thanksgiving dinners less tense!

Paying an heir to leave doesn’t mean you have to start with the highest number. Maybe start by offering to pay for the moving costs. Then offer more, as needed, until he actually leaves.

This is where having a professional executor comes in handy – he or she can do the awkward work for you. If you are interested in learning more, check out my book on Amazon, “How to Hire an Executor.”