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How selling a home can complicate estate administration

On Behalf of | May 22, 2020 | Probate Administration |

When you agree to serve as administrator or executor for someone’s estate, that means taking on substantial responsibility. You will have to read and interpret the will and other estate documents, pay creditors, file taxes and distribute assets according to the wishes of the testator.

Real estate is often among the most valuable assets included in an estate, and it can also be a source of stress for an executor or administrator. If no one in the family will inherit the house, it will likely become your obligation to sell the property and distribute the proceeds from the sale to the appropriate beneficiaries. Real estate can and often does make the administration of an estate much more complex.

Family members may be upset that they don’t get the house

Sometimes, people have expectations about their inheritance that have no basis in reality. Someone might assume that they were supposed to inherit the house. When they find out that isn’t the case, they may become contentious or even attempt to challenge you as the administrator or challenge the estate plan itself.

People may try to buy the house for an unreasonably low price

A vacant house can quickly depreciate in value. It may attract vandals and criminals. Insurance companies are often loathe to cover properties where no one lives for an extended amount of time. Therefore, an executor tasked with selling a house will likely try to sell it as quickly as possible in order to maximize the potential profit for the transaction.

People who know about the death might try to make unreasonable or unfair offers on the property in the hope of profiting off of someone else’s tragedy. Even family members might think that they should receive an inside deal and try to offer lowball prices for the property.

An executor has a duty to obtain fair market value, if not the best price possible, for a significant asset. Determining what the house is worth and doing your best to ensure that you secure a competitive price for the property can take significant work and consideration but will eventually benefit all of the heirs for the estate. An experienced attorney can provide valuable guidance.

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