Catonsville, MD asked in Real Estate Law, Probate and Estate Planning for Maryland

Q: As personal representative of closed estate should l sell house even if 3 heirs want to keep house in family?

There are 6 heirs. There is no more money to pay taxes, repairs etc. 3 heirs want to stop sale. I want to sell asap as is

3 Lawyer Answers
Thomas C. Valkenet
Thomas C. Valkenet
Answered
  • Baltimore, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: If the house is still in the name of the decedent, then the Estate is not yet closed. But the Personal Representative has broad powers to administer the assets of the Estate and make distributions according to the Will or laws that apply when there is no Will. If the house must be sold, then someone in the family needs to buy it from the Estate.

Cedulie Renee Laumann and Nina Whitehurst agree with this answer

1 user found this answer helpful

Cedulie Renee Laumann
Cedulie Renee Laumann
Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Crownsville, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: In estate administration with real estate, one of two things should happen: either real estate gets sold and cash proceeds disbursed to heirs after paying expenses OR all the expenses get paid and any real estate gets deeded to the heirs. Sometimes one or more of the heirs will "buy out" the others to keep the property. Regardless, a final accounting must be filed with the court (or final report under modified administration) to show how the assets (either cash or the property) will be disbursed.

It is not uncommon for a buy-out situation to happen, and sometimes the heirs who want to keep the property get a mortgage to allow them to buy out the other interests. While an estate remains open the Personal Representative usually gets to make the call as to what assets need to be sold. If the PR already told the court the property was going to be deeded to the heirs, the court approved the account and the estate closed, the PR will likely want to deed the property to the heirs and then let the heirs decide what they want to do once they co-own. Alternatively the PR would need to petition to re-open the estate and revise the accounting.

You're encouraged to reach out to an estate lawyer for help with either deeding the property or re-opening the estate. While not legal advice or a promise to take on a particular estate, I hope this general information helps.

1 user found this answer helpful

Mark Oakley
Mark Oakley
Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Rockville, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: I agree with both previous answers. Let me add this: you can't simply deed the property to the heirs without satisfying all of the taxes, estate administration fees and costs, and creditor claims/debts of the estate. Period. Therefore, if the three heirs who want to block the sale are not offering to put up the money to satisfy those liabilities, then they can go "pound sand" as the saying goes. But let's assume the estate costs and fees are all satisfied and the deed is put in all six heirs' names, and three of the heirs still want to sell? What if those three heirs who prefer (or need) to have the money from their share of the house refuse or cannot afford to share in the payment of property taxes, home/fire insurance, maintenance, upkeep, repairs, etc.? Or, who is going to live in that house, and are they paying rent to all those heirs not living there, since they each are entitled to their share of fair market rent? Who decides how much rent? Once property is deeded to the six heirs, any heir can immediately commence litigation to force the sale, a "sale in lieu of partition" action, and a court WILL grant the relief and order the sale, and will appoint a trustee if necessary to achieve the sale and evict everyone in the house to do so. In such a scenario, the sale proceeds will net less than a sale now, as there will be litigation costs and trustee fees to pay in addition to broker's commissions. If it comes to that, you will wish you had exercised your authority as PR to sell the house now and split the proceeds equally, rather than drag the dispute out over potentially years of costly and lengthy litigation and family arguments among co-owners. Unless all six heirs come to a common written co-ownership agreement with clear terms and understandings of rights and liabilities, that covers all contingencies, rights of use an access, expenses, and a sale procedure when agreed circumstances warrant it, then you will risk a messy dispute for the future.

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