By Sharon Vornholt
Today I want to talk about getting inside the mind of the executor. Most people know that probate investing is my favorite real estate niche of all. This group of sellers is very motivated to sell any property in the estate. Once you can understand the seller’s viewpoint, it’s easy to see that investors provide a much needed service to anyone settling an estate.
Who Is In Charge?
The terms executor and administrator are interchangeable. The term personal representative refers to either of the above. So what’s the difference?
The executor is named in the will by the deceased. In this case the deceased has specified who they want to be in charge of their estate. In the absence of a will the court will appoint an administrator. Both the executor and the administrator (also referred to as the PR or personal representative0 have the same duties and legal responsibilities. That person is the decision maker, so that is the person you ideally want to be in contact with regarding the sale of the property.
There are times however when one of the heirs will be the one to show you the property. This is generally because the personal representative isn’t available. Maybe they live out of town or they can’t be there for some other reason. This isn’t unusual, but you need to be aware that they cannot legally sell the property unless the heir is also the executor or administrator.
Get in the habit of asking the person contacting you if they are the executor. If they say no, ask what their relationship is (family member, heir etc.), and ask who the executor is and get their contact information.
The Typical Investor’s Mindset
If you ask the bulk of the investors out there why they aren’t working in probates, they will tell you that they feel uncomfortable since the property is being sold due to a death. Many will say they don’t know how to talk to those sellers; they don’t know what to say. Sometimes they will say probate investing is just plain “creepy”.
The truth of the matter is, these are just regular people that have a problem. They have an estate to settle that involves selling property. This whole process can be very confusing to the executor or administrator. They aren’t familiar with the terminology or the timelines. In addition to settling the estate, they have their own lives to get on with. They have jobs, families and other responsibilities. The last thing most of these people need is an unwanted property they have to sell. When you can show up as the expert, they will be so thankful for your help.
Once you understand your role and how you can help those folks selling the property, it’s easy to get inside the mind of the executor and understand how they feel and think.
Why do they put off Selling the Property?
There are two main reasons.
One is being overwhelmed. The executor is being pulled in a lot of different directions. Often times they just don’t know where to start. The other reason is all the “stuff” in the house. They have to decide how to dispose of all the personal belongings. I can tell you from experience that this is a gut wrenching experience.
Those were the deceased’s treasures. They were things they loved in many cases, but they have little if any value to the family. Family members will choose keepsakes, pictures and heirlooms and then there is … the rest of it. The family has to decide what to keep and what to dispose of. There can be a lot of guilt in the mind of the executor and the family members when it comes to disposing of personal belongings.
When you can step in and offer to finish this job for them you have just solved a huge problem for the executor and the heirs.
That is what investors bring to the table where estates are concerned. A solution to a problem that allows these folks to get on with their life.
Remember that in most cases they don’t want the property. They just want to sell it, settle the estate and move on. When you can help them do that, it changes everything for the seller. That’s why having a clear understanding of their viewpoint makes your job as an investor so much easier.