To many the situation is all too familiar, a loved one has passed, leaving a family home or other property to a number of heirs who disagree on what should be done with the property. Often one or more heirs wish to sell the property while another wishes to live in and maintain the property. It seems the above situation is more and more common in this post recession era.
Heirs of an estate with their own financial burdens are increasing less likely to be in a position to “buy out” the interests of the other heir in the estate. Often one or more heirs wish to live in the property while others wish to sell the property and monetize their interest in the real estate. As such a dispute often arises on what should be done with the property. Despite, beliefs to the contrary, all of the heirs of an estate need not agree on the sale of the property in order for the sale to be approved. Under the Reform Act of 1994 the process for the personal representative to oversee, manage and sell real estate held by a probate estate has been greatly simplified. The Reform Act of 1994 has statutorily defined right of the personal representative to oversee, manage and ultimately sell real estate which is held in the probate estate of a Decedent. Prior to the Reform Act of 1994, a personal representative was required to seek a court order before they could invest in, sell, exchange, lease or otherwise dispose of real property on behalf of the estate unless the Decendent’s will specifically authorized such action and waived bond or all interested persons consented and waived bond.
Thus, while the Reform Act of 1994 dispensed with one of the most commonly raised issues in the disposition of probate real estate, what to do when one heir wishes to sell a property and another wishes to keep it. The reform Act of 1994 specifically authorizes the Personal Representative to sell the property special attention should be taken with how the probate estate is opened and how the process of selling probate real estate is handled. Special care should be taken to hire a knowledgeable team to help in the sale of the property.
The first part of the team should be a knowledgeable probate attorney with experience handling real estate transactions. The second and experienced real estate agent to handle the marketing and sale of the property. For properties which the personal representative and agent may not have a good understanding of the value a well trusted and reputable real estate appraiser should be hired to provide a valuation of the real property to ensure that the value of the probate real estate is being maximized. Engaging an appraiser to provide a valuation of the property can also be an effective tool in addressing any claims by unhappy heirs that the property is being sold for “too little”.
For more information please contact Antonoplos & Associates at 202-803-5676 or Peter@Antonlegal.com.