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How to Sell a House in an Estate FAQs

When someone passes away, the property that they leave is referred to as that person’s estate. A decedent’s estate commonly includes personal property such as clothing, jewelry, household furnishing, collectibles and vehicles. An estate can also include real estate such as the house that was the decedent’s primary residence as well as other houses, townhomes, and condos owned by the decedent when he passed away. Upon the decedent’s death, the executor has the responsibility of disposing of his estate based on the terms of his will. The process of managing an estate involves a number of activities. The executor may find that it is in the best interest of the estate to sell real estate such as a house. However, there are a number of considerations involved in how to sell a house in an estate. To learn more about how to sell a house in an estate, contact a skilled Chicago estate administration lawyer.

Is an Executor Allowed to Sell a House?

The Illinois Probate Act gives an executor a great deal of power of the administration of an estate, including to sell real estate. When the probate court gives the executor the legal authority to manage an estate and ultimately distribute assets to beneficiaries there are a number of steps that the executor must take to ensure that all of the decedent’s affairs have been taken care of. For example, one of the first responsibilities of an executor during probate is to inventory to assets in the estate and to have them appraised. It is critical that the executor know the value of the estate and the value of each asset in order to understand what is available to pay estate debts.

If the estate does not have sufficient cash to pay estate debts such as debts owed by the decedent at the time of his death and expenses related to estate administration, the executor may need to sell assets, including real estate. As long as in selling the house the executor is doing what is in the best interest of the estate, and as long as the executor has the permission of beneficiaries when necessary, the executor has the legal authority to sell real estate owned by the estate.

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What are Reasons That an Executor Would Sell a House?

The three main reasons that an executor would sell a house is to pay estate debts, because the beneficiaries do not want to keep the house, or because the will instructs the executor to sell the house. While generally a house is not the first property that an executor would sell in order to raise case to pay debts, if it is necessary to sell a house and other real estate, an executor has that option.

As a Chicago estate administration lawyer will explain, another common reason that an executor may choose to sell a house is because beneficiaries do not want it. Typically this occurs when the decedent wills the house to multiple beneficiaries such as siblings. If none of the siblings want to the house, or if one sibling does not have the resources to buy the other sibling’s interest in the house, the beneficiaries may ask the executor to sell it and give them the proceeds. Similarly, a decedent may instruct that the executor sell the house and give the proceeds to specified beneficiaries.

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Would the Executor be Permitted to Sell a House if the Decedent Co-Owned It With Another Person?

As part of the assessment of estate assets in the beginning of the probate processes, it is critical that the executor determine what interest and type of ownership that the decedent had in real estate that is purportedly a part of the probate estate. For help with this, it may be a good idea to discuss the matter with a skilled estate administration attorney in Chicago. An executor would not have the power to sell interest in a house not owned by the estate. Thus, if a decedent owned a house with one or more people as a tenant in common, the executor would only have the right to sell the entire house, but could only sell the decedent’s interest. In such cases the executor may find a buy in one of the other tenants in common.

If the decedent owned the estate as a joint tenant, the house would not be part of the decedent’s probate estate. By law the decedent’s interest in the house would go to the other joint tenant, making the problem of how to sell a house in an estate inapplicable.

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Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

The special considerations related to how to sell a house in an estate may depend on a variety of factors, the most important of which is whether or not the house is even part of the probate estate. While the law gives executors broad authority to sell a house that is part of a probate estate, such authority is limited to what the will allows, what the beneficiaries want, and what is in the best interest of the estate. To learn more about how to sell a house in an estate in Chicago, contact an experienced estate administration attorney serving Chicago at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates. We are here to help. Contact us at 855-454-5529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent individuals and estates throughout Chicago.

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