An empty home might be a valuable source of steady, monthly income for family members, friends or other beneficiaries. Are they allowed to rent it out upon the death of a loved one?
Follow The State’s Probate Process
To understand how such property decisions can be made, it’s helpful to first know a little about the probate process. Here’s a quick overview.
When someone dies, notice must be provided to probate court. Forms and steps vary a bit by state, but generally, a death certificate is provided, along with the will, if there is one. Typically, these matters are attended to by the executor named in the will, who will then follow the guidance of the court, administering the estate according to the wishes of the deceased as well as paying debts, and handling other matters that might need attention.
If there is no will, probate courts generally appoint a personal representative or administrator to manage the affairs of the estate in accordance with state laws governing intestate succession.
Sometimes it can take time—months or years—for assets to go through the probate process and be distributed to beneficiaries. So, now, what about that empty home once the probate procedures are underway? Could it be rented out before the estate is fully settled? According to Legal Beagle, maybe:
Some states, like California and Washington, give representatives immediate authority to rent out probate property under their state’s probate laws. However, other states, like Ohio, require your personal representative to ask the court for permission to manage your real estate. If your executor decides it is in your estate’s best interests to rent out a property in your probate estate and has permission to do so, he can make all the arrangements for renting it and sign the rental contract all on behalf of your estate.
Sometimes, probate courts issue “letters testamentary” detailing the authority of the representative to act on behalf of the estate. Depending on the circumstances, the personal representative, could for example be authorized to: seize control over your probate property, including real estate, and manage it in a manner that is best for your estate. The representative has a fiduciary duty when acting in this role, meaning he must look out for the estate’s best interests rather than his own.
Given the important fiduciary role personal representatives or administrators play, courts often require them to secure a bond upon appointment. Sometimes referred to as personal representative bonds or administrator bonds, these are a type of fiduciary bond—they guarantee the faithful performance of the representative in accordance with all applicable laws.
To avoid delays when the court orders a fiduciary bond, individuals, families (and their lawyers) rely on a leading, national provider: Colonial Surety Company.
Uniquely, Colonial offers instant bonds from a self-service online platform. Bonds available include: personal representative bonds and administrator bonds— as well as estate, executor, fiduciary, probate and trustee bonds. Colonial provides all of these bonds and the process of obtaining them is easy. Just get a quote online, fill out your information, and enter your payment method. Print or e-file the bond from anywhere—even the courthouse!
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