How to deal with stepson’s query

Jane is the administrator of her husband’s will and a stepson has queried part of the process. She asks estate planning lawyer Rod Cunich for guidance.

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Q. Jane*
As the administrator at the time of my husband’s death in July 2017, I had to get a sworn valuation of the property, which I did. This came back lower than my stepson expected. He is in the real estate business, which I feel is a conflict of interest as he deals with real estate agencies nationally and internationally. By law, do I have to get another sworn valuation and if so, how do they go back over 12 months? The property has increased in value quite substantially – I know by my rates valuation. Is the sworn valuation I received enough?

A. There is no rule that specifies if one or more valuations are required, nor the type of valuation that is required. As the administrator of the deceased’s estate, you control it and you can make the decision about the adequacy of the valuation.

If you believe the valuation you obtained reflects the true and reasonable value of the property, you can accept it and proceed to administer the estate.

If anyone disagrees, they can formally challenge you through the courts. Sitting around debating the merits of any particular valuation is a waste of time and causes unnecessary stress.

If, on the other hand, you are unsure of the valuation you obtained, then get a second valuation from a licensed valuer with a good reputation. A good valuer can value a property at a date in the past by reference to comparable sales at that time.

*Jane is not her real name.

Rod Cunich is a lawyer with more than 30 years’ experience in estate planning. If you have a question for Rod, email it to [email protected].

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