Can The Executor of a Will Sell the Property to Himself?

A property listed for sale in Philadelphia, PA.

Are you an executor of an estate in Pennsylvania, or are you in the process of estate planning and writing your will? Whichever situation you’re in, you may wonder whether the executor of a will can sell an estate property to themselves.

So, can an executor sell the property to themselves? Generally, the executor of the Pennsylvania estate cannot sell the property to themselves without all beneficiaries approving the sale. 

Do you want to purchase the Pennsylvania estate property of a deceased person after becoming the executor of their will? Then, you will need to gain the permission of each beneficiary of the estate. That process can get complex. You may not get approval from the beneficiaries. If so, you cannot buy the property yourself.

What responsibilities does the executor have? Keep reading to learn more about an executor’s responsibilities and whether he or she can buy the estate property. Let’s get started! 

Can the Executor Sell Property to Himself 

It’s time to answer – can an executor sell the property to himself or herself? The first thing to consider is the role of the executor of an estate. The executor is responsible for engaging in the administration of the estate. That consists of:

  • Getting control of the estate’s assets
  • Executing the debts of the estate and the deceased individual
  • Beginning the probate process of the will when necessary
  • Following the steps and directions in the will

It’s easy for an executor of a will to make a mistake and start to sell the property or estate assets without following every detail in the will or receiving permission from all beneficiaries. As such, if you’re the executor of a will, seek out legal advice from a real estate lawyer from a top law firm or a real estate agent. 

In particular, you will want to work with a professional who knows the law in wills and estates. Make sure all family members in the will are on the same page before you sell the property to yourself. 

Often, the house is the largest asset of an estate. Many executors put the house on the real estate market to sell at fair market value and then distribute proceeds from the home sale between all beneficiaries. Executors selling a property may need to seek out the appraised value of the house from an appraiser before putting it on the market.

To find out if you can sell the property to yourself, work with probate attorneys and an experienced realtor to ensure you’re following the law.

Essentially, an executor of a will can purchase the property himself if all the beneficiaries approve of the sale terms and the executor buys the real estate for fair market value. Nonetheless, executors may face obstacles when trying to buy estates by themselves.   

Can the Executor of a Will Sell the Property Without All Beneficiaries’ Permission?

It is much harder for an executor of a will to sell the property to himself or others without the beneficiaries’ permission. Any beneficiary who doesn’t agree to the terms of the sale will make it harder to complete a home sale.

For instance, the executor needs to seek a third-party appraisal to determine the home’s fair market value. If any beneficiary does not approve of the appraised value, the executor will need to ask the probate court to approve the appraisal. 

The probate court can go over the head of a beneficiary when it comes to the appraised value. Yet, all beneficiaries will need to approve the home sale terms before the executor can sell the property to himself or herself.

You will need permission from all beneficiaries to sell the house. When you have an offer on the table and approval from the beneficiaries, you have to submit the written offer to the probate court. 

The next part involves the executor signing the purchase and sales agreement, getting a mortgage loan (if needed) to cover the purchase, and completing closing on the sale. Once the executor pays for the house, the title is transferred to his or her name.

You will need to get the approval of all beneficiaries for the sale, which you can do by drawing up a plan beforehand. Make sure every beneficiary is agreeable to a home sale and the splitting of the proceeds. All other assets are either liquidated or transferred based on the will. 

A property listed for sale in Philadelphia, PA.

What an Executor of a Will Can and Cannot Do

The executors of a will have specific tasks they need to do based on state law. Every state tends to have its own rules for what the executor can do and how much time is given for each task.

However, every state has some of the same regulations regarding what the executor of a will can and cannot do. For instance, the executor in any state has to follow the directions in the will and act in good faith.

The first major step for the executor is to secure the estate. That may involve:

  • Obtaining the keys to the house/property
  • Finding and securing all the assets of the deceased individual
  • Possibly checking to see who is managing the business of the deceased
  • Notifying the beneficiaries that the estate is now in probate

The next part for the executor involves settling all potential debts for the estate. That will include completing steps like:

  • Notifying creditors of the probate process by either sending letters or publishing a notice in a local newspaper, depending on state laws
  • Accessing bank accounts to pay the debt
  • Paying off debt to creditors before distributing any assets to beneficiaries
  • Filing an estate tax return and paying federal, state, and estate taxes
  • Recording all payments made and storing the financial records for the court
  • Providing relevant financial information and payment/income details to the court 
  • Paying for funeral costs
  • Paying for possible back income taxes and other debts

The executor is also responsible for asset management and taking inventory of all assets. The executor should take inventory of the following.

  • Real estate
  • Bank accounts
  • Retirement accounts
  • Life insurance
  • Investments
  • Personal property
  • Salaries
  • Businesses

It may take several hours or even several days to complete an inventory of the estate’s assets, depending on the number of assets the deceased person had. Executors also need to determine the market value of the assets. As the executor, you’ll need to determine which assets are probate ones and which ones go directly to a beneficiary. 

Further, executors will need to follow state laws to adhere to any deadlines for completing the asset inventory. Most importantly, executors will need to distribute the estate and all assets to the beneficiaries according to the will’s instructions. The probate court will need to approve the accounting of all estate payments and income before the executor can distribute assets.

Lastly, an executor should work with an estate attorney, appraiser, and accountant to ensure every step is done correctly and legally. To ensure you get paid for all the work you do as an executor of the will, keep track of how much time you spend handling the estate. You can receive payment from the estate for your time and any fees you paid out-of-pocket.

There are specific things an executor cannot do. The biggest one is that the executor cannot change the will. When distributing estate assets, the executor cannot take control and disregard the instructions in the will. They need to complete the wishes of the deceased based on the most recent copy of the will. 

The executor also cannot easily sell real estate property. The executor will need approval from all beneficiaries before completing a real estate sale.

What to Do If the Executor Is Not Doing Their Job Correctly

If the executor is not doing the job correctly, the beneficiaries can take several steps to get their inheritance. Beneficiaries need to know the timeline to settle the estate. If you are a beneficiary and have complaints, talk to the executor of the estate to resolve disputes.

If that doesn’t work, you can take legal action. You can show the probate court that the executor isn’t completing the requirements of the will or doing an illegal activity. You will need to either petition the court to remove the executor from the position or file a civil lawsuit against the executor. 

Conclusion

Now, you should know all the details behind the answer to the question, “Can an executor sell property to himself or herself?” An executor can sell the property to himself or herself if they meet two basic requirements. The executor will need to sell the house at fair market value and get approval from all beneficiaries for the sale.

Yet, if you’re an executor trying to find a potential buyer, you will need to consider the costs of selling a house like realtors’ commission fees. To save on these commission fees and other closing costs, you should consider alternative ways to sell a house.

For instance, if you need to sell a house fast in Willow Grove, reach out to cash home buyers in Pennsylvania. Furthermore, we buy houses Philadelphia residents love, so give us a call today!

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