As a beneficiary of an estate, you might feel helpless throughout the probate process. The executor seems to have all the power, and it’s challenging to know what they are or are not able to do. It’s difficult to deal with the death of a loved one and even harder when probate court is confusing.
However, knowing the extent of an executor’s abilities will help the whole process go more smoothly. You can rest easy, knowing what an executor can do and what is beyond their power. What does an executor do, and what can they do with a property?
Here is a complete guide to what an executor can and cannot do, especially when a property is in question. Probate can be confusing, and executors might not explain everything well. It is good to know who is in charge and whether the executor can sell the property, especially if you are selling a house without a realtor.
What an Executor Can and Cannot Do
The executor of a will has many responsibilities and a lot of power over the estate. However, there is a strict list of what an executor can and cannot do. The most important job of an executor is to execute the instructions in the will in honest and good faith.
For this reason, many executors are not beneficiaries of the will, who are typically family members or loved ones of the deceased. Instead, an executor is a lawyer, attorney, or court-appointed executor of an estate. However, the executor can also be a beneficiary of the will, often as a named executor that the deceased indicated before they died. Whatever the case, the executor has more duties than perks.
Here is a list of what a will executor can legally do:
- Pay taxes and any outstanding debts of the deceased
- Access bank accounts to assess the financial standing
- Collect debts owed to the estate
- Locate heirs and hand out inheritances
- Hire estate attorneys or accountants (at the expense of the estate)
This list is primarily not just what an executor can do but what an executor must do. As part of their duties, any executor must follow the letter of the law and the will of the deceased. However, here are some things probate laws do not permit an executor to do:
- Take from the estate property without being a beneficiary
- Stop a will from being contested
- Sign the will on behalf of another beneficiary or testator
- Execute the will before the testator passes
- Prevent a beneficiary from receiving an inheritance
Of course, every estate account and state laws are different. Some are more complicated than others, and the executor may face more duties or court approvals than others. If the executor needs to sell the physical property, there are several steps to the process.
How an Executor Sells a House
If an executor needs to sell the house of a deceased, the first step is to take the will to probate court. It’s crucial that the court legally establish that person as the executor before they can try to sell the house. The smoother the probate process is, the easier it is to sell the house.
An executor can legally sell a property, especially if it is necessary to cover the costs of court, attorneys, or debts from the estate. Although the process can be complicated if beneficiaries object or the property is willed to someone, an executor can sell the house.
Once the will is in probate court and the executor is set, they are free to sell the house (as long as it doesn’t contradict the will directly). It might take some court processing if there are complications or a beneficiary inherits the house now, but the executor can sell the house anyway.
Finding a realtor who is well-versed in estate law or probate court is essential when trying to make a real estate sale for an estate property. The main benefits of selling a house for cash are that it is quicker and easier for the beneficiaries.
Once the house is on the market, the executor doesn’t have a specific time limit to sell it. Instead, they can take as long as they need, depending on the market and their realtor. Although it’s better to try for a faster sale, it can be challenging to sell a house fast in Nampa or other Idaho cities. Until the probate process is over, the executor remains in charge.
Can an Executor Sell the Property?
An executor can sell or liquidate any part of the estate that isn’t explicitly protected. They will do this to pay off taxes or debts and ensure that the beneficiaries of the deceased person receive what is rightfully theirs. The executor’s role involves taking control of property, which includes the house and lands of the estate.
Although it seems strange that the executor is the sole person in charge of all the property of the deceased, they are under strict regulations as to what they can do with it. The only reasons an executor can sell a house are as follows:
- The will states that the executor should sell the house
- The beneficiaries have agreed to sell the house
- Liquidation of estate assets is needed to pay taxes or debts
- Another legal reason
If these reasons exist, an executor can choose to sell the property. However, it all depends on the will of the deceased. An executor cannot go against the will of the deceased unless it is necessary to pay off the estate’s debts.
Often, an executor will sell the property at the behest of the beneficiaries, who don’t want to deal with a real estate agent or cash home buyers in Boise while they are grieving. The executor can find a quick buyer and deal with the home sale while the probate court process continues, offering a higher cash inheritance for any beneficiaries.
The only beneficiaries who can make this decision are the beneficiaries who inherit the house. However, they can lose this power if they contest the will or the executor. They also lose the rights to the property if the estate must undergo liquidation for another legal or monetary reason. In that case, the executor can sell the house for the money to pay off debts or taxes.
Can An Executor of a Will Sell the Property Without All Beneficiaries Approving?
Things do get complicated if other beneficiaries do not want the property sold. Beneficiaries do have a say and can contest the will if they think it’s unfair. They can also challenge the executor if they believe the executor is breaking the law or not fulfilling duties properly.
While all this is true, the executor does not need the approval of the beneficiaries to sell any property. When it comes down to it, the deceased’s will comes first. In discharging the duties of the executor, it’s crucial to deal with any debts and taxes. This may mean liquidating the assets in the will.
Can an executor sell property? There are a few scenarios in which the executor will sell the house without the permission of the beneficiaries. First, the will might explicitly approve the selling of the house. In this case, the only route unhappy beneficiaries can take is to contest the will itself. This process has nothing to do with the executor and moves through probate court.
Another way that the executor sells a property without full permission is if the house does not go to anyone in particular or the property is intestate. If that is the case, the executor chooses what happens with the property, which usually entails splitting it evenly between the remaining heirs. It’s easier to do this with cash than property.
Of course, things get more complicated if one of the beneficiaries receives property in the will, but it’s necessary to liquidate it to pay off debts or taxes. If this is the case, the executor might call a probate court to help settle the legality. However, the only affected beneficiary would be the one who should have inherited the property.
These are only a few of the more common legal situations in which the executor would sell the property without the permission of the beneficiaries. However, the executor never explicitly needs permission or blessing from the beneficiaries. Since they are in charge of the estate, they can do whatever is best for the estate and the heirs.
Although an executor can sell property, it’s not for personal gain. Often, an executor is in charge of selling a house because the deceased owes money in taxes or other debts. Another reason an executor might sell a house is if the will specifically instructs them to do so. In these instances, they can sell the house quickly with a business that buys homes for cash.
If you are a beneficiary and aren’t sure what’s happening with the property in the will, talk to the estate executor or a probate attorney. Even if you don’t have authority over the will, you have the right to know what is happening. And if you are an executor that needs to sell a property at market value, we buy houses Idaho residents will love to make their new homes.