Tips for Selling a Home as a Successor Trustee Under a Trust
It seems like lately I’ve been working with sellers who are selling a home as a successor trustee under a trust. I’d venture to guess that perhaps 30% of my transactions are for sellers who are successor trustees. A successor trustee is an individual named to manage the trust in the event of a death or an inability of the existing trustee to handle the affairs. Apart from the legal end of title, the sale itself is fairly similar to selling anything else, although generally the successor trustee is exempt from certain seller disclosures.
What I have found in working with sellers who are selling real estate as a successor trustee is they are often under a bit of stress and duress. The home might be a family home where parents once lived or maybe even where the successor trustee grew up. It’s bad enough to be grieving and dealing with your own personal issues after a person you love dies, nobody really welcomes the additional stress they think selling a house will cause.
As their Sacramento Realtor, I try to be sensitive to the attachments and emotions of successor trustees. Not only do they need to deal with selling the house as a successor trustee, but often there are beneficiaries of the trust and distributions of assets that can cause all holy hell to break out. People sometimes get very weird dealing with a death in the family, and there is a side that can rear its ugly head when there are emotions and money involved.
I’m not gonna get into all of the infighting I have witnessed over the years with family members struggling for control and ownership, suffice to say it exists and it’s common. I just try to keep the peace between all parties the best I can. One aspect many people don’t realize is they can’t list a property subject to a successor trustee or sign a contract with a power of attorney. They must sign as the successor trustee.
I also ask for a copy of the trust so I can send it to escrow to determine if we have all of the documents that are required. Sometimes there are pages missing or it is unreadable. More often than not, the affidavit of death is missing and needs to be recorded. It’s a good idea to take care of all of those small details before going into escrow to keep the transaction running smoothly for the successor trustee and heirs.
There are plenty of other things for heirs to argue over. They don’t need to be involved in the technical details and we don’t need problems popping up just before closing. A wiser solution is to handle them in advance. If you’re thinking about selling a home as a successor trustee, call Elizabeth Weintraub at 916.233.6759.