Managing an estate from a distance is a more common occurrence than you’d expect. Most Estate Trustees are selected based on their ability to responsibly carry out the wishes of the Testator in wrapping up their affairs, rather than proximity to the estate itself. There are steps you can take to proactively prepare to fulfill Estate Trustee responsibilities more smoothly and with lower stress as outlined here, but when it comes time to perform the duties from a distance, five main challenges of managing the “on the ground” responsibilities include:
- Appraisals for Probate - If it’s determined that probate needs to be filed, part of what is required are personal property and real estate appraisals as of the date of death. The Estate Trustee will have to engage a personal property appraiser and a real estate appraiser to provide these services. Coordinating these services adds work to the Estate Trustee’s already full plate.
- Sorting and Managing Contents - This is typically the most time consuming and labour-intensive part of the role, as it can take anywhere from 70-100 hours of labour to sort and clear the contents of a 1,200 square foot moderately full house. Sorting, selling, donating and disposing of garbage all takes time and logistical coordination. When distance is added to this equation, it can be incredibly physically and emotionally draining to manage these tasks.
- Distribution of Assets - The amount of time this takes will depend on the bequests in the Will and the wishes of the beneficiaries. Coordinating times for the beneficiaries to visit the property and pick-up their bequeathed items or to pack up and ship the items accordingly is another potentially time consuming task.
- Insurance Checks and Maintenance - Many home insurance policies require that vacant properties be checked at least once a week (check the specific policy requirements for details). In addition, maintenance for the vacant property i.e. lawn care and snow clearing also have to be looked after. Sourcing and monitoring reliable local service providers are required tasks.
- Preparing and Selling Real Estate - If any maintenance is required on the property, sourcing and monitoring local service providers is made more taxing by the distance. Engaging with a real estate partner with a proven track record of effectively marketing and selling properties across various markets in Ontario with the goal of ensuring a quick firm sale is particularly helpful.
Settling an estate is never easy. When an estate is not close by the challenges of fulfilling the required “on the ground” estate settlement obligations can seem particularly overwhelming, especially when Estate Trustees have their own family and professional responsibilities to attend to at the same time. To learn more about how Gordon’s can help manage these responsibilities anywhere in Ontario visit our website here or contact us for a free no obligation consultation. We are here to help.