Written by Daphne Moens   |   Posted on   |   640 views

Acting as an Executor for a loved one is a big responsibility – one that you will often be tackling as you’re navigating the grieving process at the same time. One of your biggest responsibilities will be selling their assets which comes with some unique challenges.  So if you find yourself selling an estate home, we wanted to make it as straightforward as possible with this Executor’s Guide.

When tasked with being an Executor, there’s nothing simple about administering someone else’s assets, especially if they include a property.  Hopefully they’ve been organized with their personal documents so you have a good starting place – but all too often paperwork is misplaced making the Executor’s job even more befuddling.  So let me try to make this as simple as I can.  First off, I’m a REALTOR® and can only speak to my experience representing sellers of an estate home.  I can’t offer legal advice, so my first tip is to definitely talk to a lawyer about the legalities of being an Executor.  I can only guide you on what you’ll need to consider as you navigate this home sale transaction, and hopefully we can make it a smooth one!   

File for Probate

Confirm if Probate is required. In Ontario, probate is often necessary if the deceased person owned real estate, but you can check with your lawyer to determine what is necessary. 

Essentially, Probate is when the courts verify that the Decedent’s will is in fact valid, and that you will be officially acting as the Executor to their estate.

In most cases, you will need to file for, and attain the Probate Certificate before you can firmly sell the estate home. This can take anywhere from 6-8 weeks (or longer, depending on the municipality you live in).  So if you choose to list the home before Probate is complete, you may have to delay the closing date of the sale until after you’ve gotten this certification.

What if they didn’t have a valid will naming you as Executor?  Probate will take much longer, as the courts need to decide who should control all the assets in accordance to Ontario’s Succession Law Reform Act.  You will need to apply to the court to ask if you can have the authority to administer the estate.  So bear this in mind before you stick a For Sale sign on the front lawn!

Keep accurate records

Remember, as the Executor you need to meet your fiduciary duty.  Acting in the best interest of all beneficiaries and treating them equally is your number one priority.  That’s why it’s so important to maintain records and get professional opinions on the sale of the home. Every beneficiary is going to have their own opinion on whether you’re selling the home for too little, for too much, or if you’re giving preferential treatment to one of them over the other. 

You don’t want any of the beneficiaries to take a process known as “the passing of accounts” – where they can ask the court to formally review your actions.  So ensure that you’re keeping copies of everything:  when a REALTOR® gives you their opinion of value on the home, file it away and perhaps get a few more market analyses so you can show that you’ve gone above-and-beyond to ensure fair market value on the home.

Communication is key!  Make sure you’re keeping the beneficiaries informed of the process and they’ll appreciate it even more through this difficult time.

Paperwork needed & tax implications

As with almost everything you do as the Executor of an estate, you will need to ensure you have a copy of:

  • the signed will from the Decedent, outlining you as the Executor
  • the Probate Certificate verifying that the will is certified valid
  • a copy of the death certificate from the funeral home

Once the home has sold firm, be aware that there may be capital gains taxes.  These are the taxes that are charged on any “gains” the home made in value from the time that it was purchased to the time that it was sold.  Generally these will be dealt with at the next tax-time of year, but speak to an accountant to discuss how much these capital gains taxes may be.

Selling a family or a loved one’s home can also be a very emotional time.  As the Executor you’ve committed to undertaking this large job for your loved one and ensuring their final wishes have been fulfilled.  With the proper advice from lawyers, accountants and your REALTOR®, they can help you work through the legalities of the sale, as well as working tirelessly on your behalf to make sure that the best outcome is achieved and your responsibility to the estate is fulfilled.

If you’re selling an estate home in Hamilton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Norfolk or the Brantford Real Estate Market, please give our Team of Real Estate Agents a call.  We are ready to walk alongside you in this journey.

*All information provided by the Brantford Regional Real Estate Association (BRREA) and ITSO for the highest number of completed transactions since January 1, 2015. All Brantford MLS® House Listings come from the various systems operated by Real Estate Boards and Associations across Canada. The trademarks REALTOR®, REALTORS® and the REALTOR® logo are controlled by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used underlicense. The trademarks MLS®, Multiple Listing Service®, and the associated logos are owned by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify the quality of services provided by real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.

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