I Sold My Father's Property as the Successor Trustee
My father passed away on November 15, 2011 at the age of 92. He had a good, long life, and said many times that he felt that he had been lucky during his lifetime. After many years, he paid off the mortgage on his Whittier duplex, and owned it free and clear. As the executor of his will, and the successor trustee of his Living Trust, I was charged with handling his affairs.
Fortunately, Dad had most of his affairs in good order, beginning with what I learned was the most important paperwork required for selling his house after he passed, which was his Living Trust. When my mother was alive, they had already set up individual wills and a Living Trust. Thanks to the guidance of my dad’s attorney, he had a new Living Trust written up after Mom passed away in 1979. Since my brother was the oldest child, Dad named him as the successor trustee. A few years later, since my brother had long moved out of state, Dad changed the will and Living Trust to appoint me as the executor and successor trustee. When my brother learned of the change, he insisted that Dad change it back to him. As the oldest, he wanted and demanded the responsibility. Unfortunately, my brother passed away from cancer long before Dad died, and the duties fell back to me.
After going through the duties of executor and successor trustee, it probably is better that I ended up handling all of the affairs of my dad. My brother would not have had the patience to deal with everything. Not that he couldn’t have done it, but he had very little tolerance for red tape and dealing with paperwork and little, irritating obstacles. He actually left his job as a college instructor in order to drive a truck, simply because he hated all of the red tape that was involved in working with university administration. Working as the executor would have really made him blow his cork.
I learned that you need a lot of patience, as well as the ability to deal with minute details, if you are going to administer an estate. I am well suited for it by nature, but at times it even drove me nuts. I have a thick skin, and can handle just about anything; but some of the things I had to do, enhanced by all of the emotions of losing a loved one, hit me hard to the core.
Although I knew many years before the time that I was going to take on these duties, and the fact that I had done quite a bit of reading about an executor’s duties, I still felt unprepared and overwhelmed by not knowing what to do, or if I was doing the right things throughout the entire process. If you have never done it, you simply don’t understand the pressure and stress that it causes.
Another bit of good fortune was that I am a real estate agent, and I had already received some training in the handling of trusts. I also had the benefit of the advice of my broker, who counseled me to at least have one consultation with a real estate attorney. In my case, since my father had set up the front end of it so well, I only needed one hour of the attorney’s time to make sure I was on the right track. But that one hour was the best investment I made during the whole process.
If you are going to handle the affairs of a departed loved one, my advice to you is to seek the advice of an attorney, as well as a professional tax consultant, as soon as possible.
Thank you for reading the above post on how I handled the sale of my father’s home as a successor trustee. If you like my blog, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed to get the latest Whittier real estate news.
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