How to Sell a Deceased Estate

YNM Real Estate
19 December 2021

When a person dies, the executor(s) of the deceased person’s estate are responsible for their assets – including any property that they may have owned.

A deceased estate property is handled in the same way as any other real estate deal, with some exceptions.

The executor of a will normally becomes the vendor or seller if the property is to be sold. They will normally obtain a property valuation and then use a real estate agent to manage the sale.

The transfer of the house into the name of the executor must be registered before a sale can be concluded. The executor is then able to sign any contract and associated documented related to the sale of the property. If an executor is not named in the Will, then the transfer of such a property would need a “grant of probate” which a family member will normally apply for to the Supreme Court after the death certificate has been issued. This grant of probate normally takes about 4 weeks or longer in total. In order to get the grant of probate, there is a mandatory advertising period of 14 days, after which the application to the Supreme Court can be filed. The application will take about 2 weeks or longer after filing.

A property can be sold subject to a grant of probate, and this would be noted on the contract.

If a grant of probate is not required, then the house can be transferred to the executor named in the Will as soon as the death certificate and the original Will is available. The executor(s) can enter into a contract of sale before the property is transferred into their names as long as the contract specifies that it is subject to the registration of the property in the names of the executor(s) before settlement.

Executors often choose to auction deceased estate properties, as this makes for an open and transparent process.

The proceeds of the sale of the house will form part of the estate, and will be distributed to any beneficiaries by the executor as stipulated in the Will.

The deceased estate property does not have to be sold immediately. Depending on when probate is obtained, an executor has 24 months to decide what to do with the property before ‘death taxes’ kick in. It is possible to rent out the property for a time and then sell it just before the 24 months expires, in order to generate some rental income which could pay off some of the estate’s debts.

Whether the executor of the estate decides to sell right away or rent the property out for a period of time prior to selling it, the property has to be cleared out and any maintenance issues addressed. It is a good idea to consult with a local real estate agent or property manager for advice in this regard.

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