Selling Real Estate as the Executor of an Estate

If you’ve been named the executor of an estate, you’ve been given an honor—and a responsibility. Here I’ll discuss how to sell a property as the executor, or personal representative, of an estate in Colorado.

Whether or not there’s a will, the case has to go through probate if the estate’s estimated value is over $50,000. Probate is the legal procedure in which a deceased person’s assets get transferred according to their wishes and the law. As the estate’s personal representative, you’ll have duties to carry out, which often include selling a home.

While it may not feel right to sell a family home right away, the longer you hold onto it, the greater the chance that something may go wrong. Remember last spring’s big hailstorm? You don’t want to worry about insurance claims or new, costly repairs on top of all the probate proceedings. Plus, if you delay closing out the estate for too long (three years or more), the court will close the case and you’ll have to pay a large sum to reopen it.

As the executor, it’s your job to ensure the assets are properly distributed and not diminished unnecessarily. You will need to:

  • Engage a probate attorney to help with the process.
  • Obtain letters testamentary from the court if there is a will, or letters of administration if the deceased left no will (intestate).
  • Get court approval to sell the property.
  • Maintain insurance and pay taxes for the estate from the estate account.
  • Sort and remove belongings, inventory items of value.
  • Engage a Realtor with probate/estate sale experience.
  • Get the property appraised to establish a “date of death value.”
  • With a Realtor’s assistance, prepare the home (staging/repairs etc), price it, and list it.
  • When the sale is complete, see that funds go into an account established for the estate.
  • Keep the estate open for four months, giving notice so that creditors can make claims.
  • Pay creditors, attorneys, and beneficiaries according to the will or inheritance law.

Pro Tip

Denver real estate is hot these days. The word will get out of your loved one’s passing (from county records, obituaries, etc.). As the personal representative, you’ll be approached by all types of characters—investors, developers, “house flippers,” etc.—who will want you to sell the house directly to them, without putting it on the market.

These guys are approaching you directly to save on their expenses, so they can resell it for maximum profit. Dealing with such buyers, many with murky funding sources and who will likely try to play on your inexperience, is treacherous and stressful and can lead to bad situations. For this reason, it’s best to engage an experienced Realtor sooner rather than later, ideally at the start of probate, so you have someone to help you navigate today’s Denver real estate market.

You never know: It may turn out to be best to sell the property off market before listing it… but you’ll know best with the voice of an experienced and reputable listing agent in your corner to help you make wise decisions and weed out unqualified buyers and bad actors.

Are you the executor of an estate? Let’s talk!

In addition to being experienced with probate/estate sales, I keep a good roster of professionals in Denver to help you with the probate process: finances, tax preparation, moving and storage, and, of course, estate planning. Contact me for a recommendation for a Colorado estate attorney

Published by Jessica Wilkie, Broker Associate

Hard worker data geek with experience and humor to share. Enjoy serving people throughout their real estate journeys and helping them make good and informed real estate moves.

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