Probate Series: How Does an Executor Sell a Home?

We buy a lot of houses from heirs when a loved one dies and there are often a lot of questions around How Does an Executor Sell a Home? These questions around the selling process are better addressed before the loved one passes rather than after so that we can help our readers and our sellers make informed decisions.

Today’s post is a bit tough to understand – how does an executor sell a home? We found this great explanation from Rabalais Estate Planning LLC which is based in Louisiana. And while estate planning does vary a bit from state to state and we do recommend consulting with an attorney where you live, he does have a decent explanation of the 3 ways an executor can sell a home after someone passes away.

How Does An Executor Sell A Home?
There are three basic ways how a seller would go about selling the home of someone who has passed away.

Selling a House Through a Living Trust:

This takes advanced planning by the homeowner to create a living trust AND then the home was transferred into the ownership of the living trust. The living trust will have a trustee that administers the wishes of the deceased and sells or passes assets on to the beneficiaries in the living trust. This allows the trustee to take action immediately to sell the home to convert to cash and payout to trustees.

Selling a House With an Independent Executor:

Either the deceased has a will that names an Independent Executor or there is no will and the heirs get together and pick someone to act as Independent Executor. This Independent Executor usually works with a probate attorney to work through the process to get named as the Administrator or Executor. And then working through the probate attorney and the court to get the home sold and then dispursed to the heirs.

Selling a House when there is no Independent Administrator

This happens when either the will does not name an Administrator or there is no will and the heirs either can’t all be found or if they can, they can’t all agree on who will be in charge. In this case, it can be a total nightmare for the estate to sell the property. You will definitely need to have a probate attorney who knows all the ins and outs and you have to follow the wishes of the court.

After Probate is Complete

Work through the entire probate process and once complete the heirs will all own the property together and can then list and sell the home. Of course, this does require the heirs to all get together and agree on everything.

So the moral of this post – plan your estate. Create a trust if possible so that the estate does not have to go through probate. At the same time, create a will to direct your wishes as to who gets what and who should be in charge.

Case In Point

Once upon a time, we had found a house where the house had gone through the probate process and had passed on to the 4 children. Three of the children agreed they wanted to sell the property but the fourth who had moved in rent-free to keep an eye on the property didn’t. He was enjoying his free house. And they just could not all agree on selling, so eventually we gave up.

We had another house that the heirs had ended up with their mother’s home. They all three together had to agree on selling on price on everything. They called us and we agreed upon the price, but when it came time to close, one of them was afraid the other two would keep her share of the money or in some way cheat her on the sale and she refused to sign off on the closing documents to complete the transaction until we could find a way to make sure she got paid. So we added an addendum to the contract outlining how the title company was to disperse the proceeds in percentages to each of the heirs. We then closed early, wired our funds in for closing and when the sister signed her portion of the documents, they handed her a check right then instead of making her wait.

In both of these cases, if an executor had been named in advance, they could have worked through the process of selling the house, with or without the agreement of everyone else involved.

Rabalais Estate Planning, LLC, is a Louisiana estate planning and administration law firm. Since 1991, Paul Rabalais has been helping Louisiana individuals, couples and families arrange legal affairs to protect what they have. Mr. Rabalais earned his B.S. in Finance from Louisiana State University, his law degree from the LSU Law Center, and his Masters in Tax Law from the Boston University School of Law. Mr. Rabalais is the author of the book, “Estate Planning in Louisiana, A Layman’s Guide.” He has spoken to hundreds of consumer groups about estate planning. He has taught continuing education to Louisiana attorneys regarding a variety of estate planning-related matters. This channel is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal advice. Please do not act or refrain from acting based on anything you read on this site. Using this site or communicating with Rabalais Estate Planning, LLC, through this site does not form an attorney/client relationship.

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Chris in Overland Park

Like Doing Business with a Trusted Friend!

From the very beginning, I could tell he (Donald Tucker) was honest. He empathized with what we were going through and how hard it was to let our family home go. He stayed on top of things as they occurred and it felt like doing business with a trusted friend. He was very reassuring and explained every step of the process. Thank you so much.

Kim Tucker

Kim Tucker along with her husband Don and son Scott make up the core kcmoHomeBuyer Team that has been buying homes across the Kansas City Metro since 2000!

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