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How do I sell real estate in probate?

On Behalf of | Feb 26, 2021 | Estate Administration, Probate |

It is common for elderly loved ones to leave real estate properties to their children when they pass away. Whether it is the cherished family home or a rental property up north, your parent might leave this property to be shared – or divided – equally between you and your siblings.

Dealing with inherited real estate properties can often be one of the most complex aspects of the probate and estate administration process. Children who inherit such property frequently sell it and divide the profits equally, as that is usually the most straightforward way to handle it.

However, even if it is one of the easiest strategies, selling property in probate requires a few critical steps that families and executors must understand.

Three steps to selling property in probate

As the executor, you must:

  1. Get a proper, official appraisal of the real property to determine its value
  2. Provide written notice to the interested parties – the beneficiaries – about the appraisal and the sale
  3. Obtain consent from these parties regarding the sale

Only then can you move forward with the process of selling your loved one’s real estate property.

Don’t I need court approval to sell the property?

This is an important question to consider. Though, the answer depends on your authority as executor.

Under the California Independent Administration of Estates Act (IAEA), executors may have different levels of authority, and therefore power over the property sale. And these levels of authority determine whether or not executors must obtain court approval.

So, according to the law:

  • If you have full authority, you can make most decisions regarding real property without court approval. This includes sales, exchanges or matters involving the mortgage.
  • If you have limited authority, you cannot sell the property or make decisions regarding it without court approval.

Regardless of the type of authority you have, you must still take the three steps listed above to sell property, and the court will still become involved if any issues or disputes should arise.

The authority you have generally depends on what your loved one included in their will. For example, some individuals might explicitly indicate that their executor should only have limited authority. Otherwise, it depends on the personal representative’s petition and the probate court’s decisions.

It is critical to understand the scope of authority you have in this process, so you and your family can navigate the probate process smoothly and effectively.