What happens to the house when the owner passes is a serious issue. As a result, people might want to read up on it so as to get a better understanding of the situation. So exactly how does an executor sell a house? This post breaks it down for you.
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- Can the Executor of an Estate Sell the Property?
- Can an Executor of a Will Sell a Property Without All Beneficiaries Approving?
- How Long Does an Executor Have to Sell a House?
- Can a House Be Put Up for Sale Before Probate Is Granted?
- How Long Does It Take to Sell House After Probate?
- Can You Sell a Deceased Person’s House without Probate?
- What Happens to the House When the Owner Dies?
Can the Executor of an Estate Sell the Property?
The executor is obligated to follow the exact wishes of the deceased person that were laid out in their will, meaning that the exact wording can have a huge impact on whether they can sell the property or not.
For example, if the deceased person made it clear that their property is supposed to go to a specific person, the executor is obligated to follow that instruction.
After which, the beneficiary can do whatever they want with the property because they are the new owner.
In contrast, if the deceased person says that the property is supposed to go towards a number of beneficiaries, the situation becomes much more complicated.
The simplest and most straightforward outcome is that the executor will sell the property before handing a portion of the proceeds to each of the beneficiaries based on what was said in the will.
However, if the beneficiaries can agree to share the property between them, it is possible that the executor will just hand the property over to them instead of selling it.
Generally speaking, unless the will specifies otherwise, the executor is assumed to have the authority to sell the property.
It is possible for the beneficiaries to stop the executor from exercising this authority, but if they want to do so, they are going to need a very compelling reason such as the executor attempting to sell the property at below fair market value or engaging in some other kind of misdeed.
Can an Executor of a Will Sell a Property Without All Beneficiaries Approving?
By default, the executor of a will is assumed to have the authority to sell the property unless the will specifies otherwise, meaning that they can sell a property even if not all of the beneficiaries agree to the arrangement.
In fact, so long as the executor’s choice to sell is in line with the deceased person’s will, they are not even required to either seek consent or issue notice to the beneficiaries.
As a result, it isn’t unknown for executors not to notify the beneficiaries about their choice to sell the property until the time comes for them to hand over the proceeds.
How Long Does an Executor Have to Sell a House?
Once the executor has probate, they are expected to sell the house within a reasonable period of time.
Generally speaking, executors can expect to take between 120 and 180 days to settle an estate.
However, bigger estates can take longer amounts of time to settle, with one particularly famous case being the estate of Howard Hughes, which took decades to settle because of that as well as other complicating factors.
Can a House Be Put Up for Sale Before Probate Is Granted?
Executors will need to wait for probate before putting a house up for sale. In some states, it is impossible to sell a house before probate has been granted.
However, the state of Nevada stands out in that there are some potential exceptions to this rule.
- There is a process called muniment of title that can be used when there is a will and there is no outstanding debt that has been secured using real property, with the result that the title of the property can be transferred to the beneficiaries by getting the will validated by a local county court.
- There is a process called affidavit of heirship, which can be used when the estate consists of real property and nothing but real property.
In that case, the title to the property can be transferred to the beneficiaries so long as there are two people with nothing to gain from the estate who are willing to sign the affidavit.
Once the ownership of the property has been transferred, the beneficiaries will have more options in regards to the property.
How Long Does It Take to Sell House After Probate?
This is something that can see a fair amount of variation depending on the house in question.
After all, some houses are much easier to sell than others, which has an important impact on their final sale price as well as the amount of time needed to sell them to a home buyer.
Please remember that executors are expected to sell the house at fair market value, which is an issue that will come up in the final accounting.
Can You Sell a Deceased Person’s House without Probate?
No, a deceased person’s house cannot be sold without probate under most circumstances in the United States.
In short, probate is supposed to be the judicial process that makes sure that the deceased person’s will is actually their will, thus preventing potential abuse.
As such, the executor of the will can’t go about selling the deceased person’s house until they have received the authorization to do so.
With that said, there are some cases in which the ownership of the house will be transferred on an automatic basis.
For example, it is possible that the house was under joint ownership, meaning that it would be passed to either the deceased person’s surviving spouse or some other heir.
Likewise, it is possible that the house will pass to some other person without probate because of a preexisting contract of some kind.
Outside of these exceptions, a probate process is needed even if the deceased person had a valid will, meaning that it will not be permitted to sell their house before the process has been completed.
What Happens to the House When the Owner Dies?
In some cases, the ownership of the house is transferred on an automatic basis when the owner dies.
For example, if the house was under a joint tenancy, the right of survivorship means that the other joint tenant becomes the owner of the entire house.
Otherwise, it depends on whether there is a will or not. If there is a will, the executor will have to undergone the probate process to make sure that the will is valid.
Failing that, it is possible for an administrator to be appointed. What happens from that point forward can see significant variation from case to case.
For instance, the executor is obligated to follow whatever it is that the deceased person wrote down in their will.
However, there is room for interpretation regarding how the executor is supposed to get the estate to the beneficiaries in the absence of written instruction, meaning that the executor can choose to sell even if not all of the beneficiaries are on board with their plan.
Similarly, administrators have even more room for interpretation because of the lack of a will, though they are still obligated to make sure that the estate reaches the rightful beneficiaries.
Simply put, both executors and administrators have space in which to exercise their independent sense of judgment, but that room runs out as soon as they try to go against their respective duties and responsibilities.