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Can An Executor Sell Property To Himself In 2020?

Richard Latimer Founder Of Veritas Home Buyers
Richard Latimer
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The role of an executor can sound complicated at first, what is an executor really, and can an executor sell property to himself?

It is emotional and challenging to experience the death of a family member or loved one, specifically when it comes to sorting out property and belongings left in a Will. Although this is a difficult time for all the loved ones of the deceased, it can be incredibly challenging if you are the executor of the estate.

It is not a responsibility to be taken lightly to carry out a loved one’s last wishes, so it is vital to fulfilling this task with dignity and respect. The executor was selected to carry the responsibility of finalizing the deceased’s properties, and their home is their most significant asset for most individuals.

It can be a complicated process to close an estate. It is necessary for executors, beneficiaries, and other stakeholders to educate themselves on how it works. The more you know about the workings of the estate process, the easier it will be to prevent simple mistakes.

In this article, we will explore if can an executor can sell the property to himself or herself.

An executor in a nutshell

Signing Last Will And Testament
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What the executor can, and can not, do with the properties the deceased has left behind is a part of the most significant things to know.

Specifically, without the approval of all the beneficiaries, should the executor sell assets?

An executor is someone who has the right to care for the property of a deceased person. They can be appointed by a court to administer the estate of someone that passed away or by the testator of a Will. 

If a person makes a Will but dies without signing it, the law is seen as not creating a Will at all. On behalf of someone who already passed, the executor can’t sign the Will. This person also does not begin to execute the Will while the testator is still alive.

As the executor, there must be a good general understanding of just what you are responsible for and what is beyond your rights. Managing the entire property means several tasks. These can be ensuring that all estate assets are accounted for and kept safe, paying any outstanding taxes or debts from the estate’s funds.

To ensure that the executor properly fulfills his duties, there are specific rules and regulations to follow. And in some cases, the executor is not doing their job. Then the beneficiaries might take some legal actions, etc. 

A situation may arise where the executor may want to buy the property in question. That is why we wrote this article, “Can an Executor Sell Property to Himself”.

Roles of an Executor

Frustrated Executor Wondering If &Quot;Can An Executor Sell Property To Himself&Quot;
It Can Be Frustrating If You Are Wondering “Can An Executor Sell Property To Himself.”

Here is a quick list of the roles of an executor. Before we can answer the question of “Can an executor sell property to himself” we need to further explore the position of being an executor. Executors are responsible for:

  • Distribution
  • Managing Bills
  • Accounts
  • Accountability
  • Custody
  • And acts as a property representative

Also read more about executor requirements in Alabama here.

Distribution

One of the most essential and also complicated tasks is the distribution of the property. They have to be very careful about doing it because all beneficiaries have to be satisfied.

Managing bills

There will be all kinds of bills, and it is also under the executor’s responsibility. The executor has to pay all the bills of the property of the deceased person. 

Receive all the accounts receivable

Any savings, account receivables, etc might be available to the property owner. The executor has to collect all of these receivables from the account.

Accountability

The executor still has some debt or anything like that to be liable for. They also have to pay the payables to the accounts. They are responsible for supplying all the transaction documents for the settlement.

This debts need to be paid before an executor can sell the property to himself.

Custody

The executor has the right to keep the custody of the property of that deceased person. Here they have the legal authority to make all the decisions, including investment. Their duty and responsibilities end in distributing the property to the respective beneficiaries.

These are mainly the rights and obligations of an executor of a property.

Property representative

As we have said before, an executor holds the deceased person’s position, so his other duty is to act as the property’s representative. He has that power. So, in case of anything, he is there to defend or sue on behalf of the estate. 

Can an executor sell the property?

Hand Holding Keys For Selling A House
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If the recently deceased person has not created a will or the remaining family members may not find one. Instead of selling the deceased’s home, it could be necessary for an executor to purchase property shares from other heirs. Read on to discover can an executor sell property. We will then conclude by answering the question “Can an Executor Sell Property to Himself”.

In this scenario, too, the executor will be a beneficiary. This scenario is common among adult siblings. Others might prefer to cash out their part of the home’s value, and one wants to remain in the family home.

The other heirs might be able to agree on a way forward in certain other cases. For example, they may decide not to sell real estate until a later date. However, this is a more complicated proposition since most heirs now choose to collect their inheritance rather than wait for years down the line.

The executor is obligated to act in the best interests of beneficiaries. However, suppose the executor feels that an heir is attempting to stall the deal indefinitely or is otherwise acting unreasonably. In that case, they can also petition the court.

An estate executor is unable to sell the property to himself for less than fair market value. The executor has no ownership of the land. They are just temporarily managing it. So can an executor sell property to himself? If the price is right!

All rights of the properties do belong to heirs. All of the beneficiaries have to agree with the terms of the sale. So usually, the executor can´t buy the property if he doesn’t get the beneficiaries’ consent. The question “Can an executor sell property to himself” in this scenario depends on all the parties involved1

Suppose the Will doesn’t specifically disallow the sale of a home. In that case, the executor has the legal right to sell the property without the beneficiaries consenting.

The Evil Executor

Angry And Evil Executor Man Slamming Fist On Table
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Evil-minded individuals might use this opportunity by inheriting the property of the deceased to make themselves wealthy. Estate property doesn’t belong to the executor, so when a manager steals money he manages, it is called embezzlement.

Only estate funds may be used by the executor to cover the estate’s legitimate costs, taxes, and legal fees. If an executor neglects great advice and sells the house to himself for less than fair market value, that would be stealing from the other beneficiaries. When an executor uses the money of the estate for his purposes or transfers estate money to himself, he is taking everyone’s money, not just his own.

For instance, if he takes three thousand dollars, he doesn’t take three thousand dollars of his own money. He steals 1,000 dollars from each one of his siblings. And the consequences aren’t pleasant. The judge in the case can remove the executor. The court will require the executor to return the property to the estate or to pay the beneficiaries of the estate a compensation charge.

In response to using estate funds to cover his attorney’s fees, the court may require the executor to pay for his own attorney’s fees. What is scarier is that it is even possible to sue the executor for cheating criminally. 

In some cases, the executor is one of the beneficiaries, and even though his consent will matter, it’s not enough. He still needs the permission of the other beneficiaries if attempting to sell it to himself.

The Sole Beneficiary

The most straightforward case is that the sole beneficiary of the estate is the executor. In that scenario, since the house was already bequeathed to them, the executor would not have to go through the buying process. However, there would be several measures involved in the transfer of ownership. In this case, the executor does not have to sell the property to himself.

The Transfer-on-Death Deed

Suppose a transfer-on-death (TOD) deed is created by the deceased. In that case, it will allow the executor / beneficiary to quickly transfer the home and any other properties without going through the probate process. The executor would not need to initiate a sale in this scenario; they would have to file the court’s death certificate.

If the transfer-on-death deed was not set up before the owner passed away, but the executor is the sole beneficiary. The executor would need to go through probate to change the title to reflect the new ownership.

In a case where are many beneficiaries, it might be more difficult. If any other heirs contest the chain of title and say that they should have gained from the sale, it may become an issue for the buyer.

If there is contention among the beneficiaries, hiring an appraiser may be beneficial. They will decide what the property is worth, and a judge will most probably decide fair distribution. It is essential to ensure that everyone agrees with the sale and draw up a plan before beginning the smoothest possible sale process.

Process

Gears Representing A Process
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The two most significant moves are ensuring that all beneficiaries agree with the home buying executor and settle for a selling price. If everyone doesn’t agree, at this point, it generally arises.

In most instances, the executor must secure an appraisal by a third party. However, it’s good to keep in mind that though the executor requests an estimate, it may not indicate the house’s true worth.

After that comes requesting the beneficiaries’ consent. The executor could seek approval from the probate court if the beneficiaries do not agree with the appraised value. The particular rules surrounding this phase differ by state. When the executor submitted a written offer to the court, and all beneficiaries have consented to the sale, the process’s remainder is comparable to a traditional purchase.

The executor signs the purchase contract comes up with any funds required to complete the purchase and goes through closing. At that point, the payment is made, and the title is transferred to the executor.

This was a general outline of the process to answer the question “can an executor sell property to himself” there may be other items not covered in this article.

In Conclusion Can An Executor Sell Property To Himself?

It is legal and not impossible for an executor to buy a home from the estate as long as the correct requirements are met. So, to answer the question, yes, an executor can sell the property to himself.

It means making an offer that represents fair market value and obtaining signed consent from any other beneficiaries or obtaining approval from the courts. 

The executor must respect the Will and behave in the best interests of the beneficiaries and of the estate. They have the final say, as long as they remain within those limits.

In making these decisions, the executors should never allow any personal emotions to cloud their judgment. They definitely should not make decisions based on personal benefit. Suppose a beneficiary feels that an executor is not acting in their best interests. In that case, they can request the removal of the executor.

There are many different situations that will affect how the questions, “Can a executor sell property to himself.” Short answer is “yes” but in reality it is complicated!

If you liked this article “Can an Executor Sell Property to Himself” check out what the closing costs are in Alabama. Our blog is to help you discover more about real estate in general and in Alabama!

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