Death, family, and money are always an emotional mix. And those emotions can lead to headaches and expensive problems during probate.
How to clean out house after death
In general, the clean-out can be an emotional and cathartic process as people journey down memory lane. But in our case, the daughters are from out of state. They had limited time to just tag items for the executor to keep or trash, then leave.
Then, we hired a realtor who was willing to box and move the items to storage on behalf of the daughters. Unfortunately, making decisions in an emotional state caused very confusing, very long lists. As a result, the realtor accidentally took golf clubs to be appraised, rather than leaving them in the “keep” pile. The realtor thought these nice golf clubs were in the “trash” pile, so he decided to see what they were worth instead of throwing them away. He did this so the heirs wouldn’t lose money by throwing away something potentially valuable. He had good intentions with his actions.
Little did the realtor know, the golf clubs had strong sentimental value. The daughters went ballistic when they found out that the realtor handled the golf clubs. The daughters threatened to sue the realtor and call the police on him.
How this created probate issues
The incident resulted in weeks of emails and phone calls between lawyers, daughters, and realtor to sort out and calm down the situation. Of course, this was all billable work.
The next consequence was that the realtor quit. This was unfortunate because the realtor was doing an excellent job in going above and beyond. Not only did we lose a great realtor, but it will be nearly IMPOSSIBLE to hire someone else to handle the packing and storage. Now there is a precedent that if someone makes the slightest error, the daughters might sue them or call the police.
Of course, this was not a small mistake to the daughters, but their reaction was not proportionate to the circumstances. Their response far outweighed the mistake. By the way, the golf clubs were immediately returned to the daughters with the appraised value.
Why an Independent Executor may help?
An independent executor is emotionally unattached. As most of you may know, I am a professional executor. If there was a mistake made, I can dispassionately evaluate if someone made an honest mistake or acted out of line.
I take pride in being a professional executor, but I don’t take it personally. Mistakes won’t flare my emotions as if it were my father’s estate. Even if I think the realtor messed up, my response would be proportional. I wouldn’t have a ballistic reaction that scares other realtors away. There are consequences as to how you go about your business as an executor.
You may say, “Oh, I would never call the police on a realtor who made a mistake.” But most people are prone to some level of emotional response when grieving. Professional executors definitely care about your case and your family, but they do not have the emotional attachment. This emotional detachment allows a professional executor to make professional, independent, unbiased decisions.
You can read more about professional executors by checking out my book, “How to Hire a Professional Executor,” available on Amazon.