The Sur(real) estate
The orderly administration of a parent’s estate will often revolve around the family home. All too often, the children of the deceased parent will not see eye to eye on the best way to liquidate the home or whether the home should be liquidated at all. The situation is often compounded when one of the children resided with the parent and may have developed an enhanced emotional attachment to the home. If the home is sold, it may become a challenge to empty out the contents in a timely fashion.
Such difficulties have led some commentators to espouse the viewpoint that a family member ought not to be an executor of an estate in which the family home is the most significant estate asset. To my mind, such recommendation is a bit extreme: each family is different and while there is no certainty as to how the children will interact with one another on the death of the surviving parent, it is worth noting that the vast majority of estate administrations are not referred to litigation counsel.
As noted in a recent article in the New York Times, the difficulties that may arise in the sale of the family home are often best resolved through the advice of a good listing agent and effective communication between the executor and his or her siblings. Such issues that may arise include: the appropriate list price, how to show the home to attract the most optimum sale price, and what upgrades (if any) to engage in and whether to use estate assets for this purpose.
David M. Smith