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How to Sell a Probate House Frequently Asked Questions

Under the New York Estates Powers and Trusts Law, the executor of an estate is empowered to manage the process of probate. Probate is the legal process that a decedent's estate must go through before his (or her) property can be distributed to his beneficiaries. In New York only estates that have a value of over $30,000 are subject to probate. Smaller estates can take advantage of the summary probate procedure. Probate is a lengthy process, requiring at least 7 months. Because during probate the executor may need to sell real estate, it is important for the executor as well as beneficiaries to understand how to sell a probate house. Because probate can be complicated, contact a New York probate administration lawyer who can help ensure that your decisions are consistent with the will and New York law.

Does an executor have the authority to sell a probate house?

Executors have a wide range of powers related to managing an estate. They are authorized to buy, sell, rent, and repair real estate. However, all of an executor's decisions must be in the best interest of the estate.

There are certain circumstances in which selling a house during probate may be required. For example, if the terms of the will state that the executor is to sell the family home and distribute the proceeds in equal shares to each of the decedent's children, then the executor must sell the house. If a decedent left a house to 3 siblings, and the siblings would prefer that the executor sell the house during probate, the executor can do.

As a New York probate administration lawyer will explain, the executor may find that the estate does not have enough liquid assets to pay all of its debt. As a result the estate may have to sell property to pay those debts. While it is not ideal to sell the family house or other real estate to pay debts, the executor may have no other choice.

Before selling a house for any reason, the executor may need to get approval from the Surrogate's Court judge.

What if the decedent owned the house with another person?

It is common for a house to be co-owned by more than one person. For example, spouses typically co-own the family house. Sometimes siblings, friends, and business associates purchase homes together. When a house that is purportedly a part of an estate is co-owned, issues related to how to sell a probate house can get even more complex.

If the decedent co-owned the house as a tenant in common, only the decedent's interest in the house is part of the probate estate. It will pass to a beneficiary according to the terms of the will. The executor would only have the authority to sell the interest in the house that is part of the estate. On the other hand, if the decedent owned the house as a joint tenant, the house would not be part of the probate estate and the executor would have no authority to sell it. This is why it is critical that the executor understands how a house is registered. If you are unsure about whether or not a house is indeed part of the probate estate, contact a skilled probate administration lawyer in New York who will review the records and let you know who owns the house and whether it is part of the probate estate of the decedent.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

Selling property in that is part of a probate is tricky, particularly when the property is a house. In action that an executor takes with respect to a estate must be report to the Surrogate's Court and may need prior approval. To learn more about how to sell a probate house in New York, contact an experienced probate administration attorney serving New York at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates. We have the skill, knowledge, and resources to help. Contact us at 1-800-NY-NY-LAW (1-800-696-9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County and Westchester County.

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