Sometimes, as professional executor, I must be a (reluctant) house flipper.
Why reluctant? It looks so fun and glamorous on TV shows! Renovating means time, money, and risk for the estate. That is not great for an executor. An executor’s job is to preserve value, pay creditors, and get whatever is left over into the hand of the heirs as soon as possible. I prefer to sell as quickly as possible, but sometimes we have no choice.
Low budget home renovation
When an executor is the house-flipper, it is almost always low-budget. Any misspent/overspent dollar is money out of heirs’ pockets. I have to make decisions that don’t cost the heirs their inheritance. Knowing that, I do the bare MINIMUM amount of renovation necessary to sell the house. Am I going to get a presentable countertop or the granite one? Am I going to knock down walls to make an open floor plan? No!
Am I going to scrub the mold out of the bathroom? Of course; almost no one will buy a house like that. Will I exterminate for pests? Yes, we have to! I do what I need to do to get it sold. I don’t spend more to get top dollar; I spend the minimum amount to get a reasonable buyer.
Oversee home renovation
As a professional executor, I must oversee the contractors, plumbers, movers, etc. I oversee who comes in and out of the home and make sure the workers are bonded and insured. That kind of project management can be challenging. Just imagine getting contractors inside to work on a co-op in the city. They have to come at scheduled times, and someone has to be there to let them in. And the heirs don’t have to deal with any of it when they hire a professional executor.
How to pay for home renovations
As a professional executor/house-flipper, I have to figure out how to pay for these home renovations. Who pays for this? If the estate is liquid, I can take the funds from the estate account. What if the estate doesn’t have the funds? I might have to call the heirs to ask them to contribute some money toward the renovations. That is not a fun job to do; it makes you feel like a solicitor. This a job that the heirs get to avoid if they hire a professional executor.
If the estate doesn’t have money and we can’t raise funds from the family, I arrange financing. This is not the ideal option, but there are different kinds of loans out there to help. If there is something in the house that absolutely needs to be fixed, as a professional executor, I do what needs to be done to fix it.
To learn more on what a professional executor can do, check out my book, “How to Hire a Professional Executor”