Washington, DC asked in Estate Planning, Family Law and Probate for Maryland

Q: Can estate executor refuse to sell house to family?

My mother passed and my sister is executor. I want to buy the house and mg daughter my be interested as well. My sister has said I cannot buy the house and my daughter can’t either because she doesn’t think it’s a good idea. The will only states that money from house sale will be split evenly. Is there any legal help for me to buy the house?

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

A: The executor is supposed to sell the house at fair market value to maximize its value to the estate. The executor can sell the house to anyone for that price, or at a lower price if all the heirs who are to receive a share agree. You do not say how many heirs the house is to be divided among. You also do not say whether the proceeds of the house are needed to pay other estate administrative expenses or claims, which might be the case if there are insufficient other assets in the estate to pay those expenses. In that scenario, the sale proceeds are first applied to those expenses before they are divided among the heirs. One way for one heir to purchase the house would be to offer enough money to cover the shares of the other heirs who would have received a distribution from it were the house to sell at a fair market price. In the situation where the sale proceeds would be needed to cover administrative expenses, you would need to calculate those costs, and factor them into the amount you would pay the estate to even out everyone's shares. In this way, you receive your inheritance in the form of equity in the purchase of the home, and the other heirs receive the cash you pay for their shares in the home, with the amount you pay adjusted to take into account the administrative expenses. If you or your daughter do not have the cash to buy the house, you would need to find a mortgage lender willing to finance your purchase. In the absence of an agremeent with your sister, you can still make an offer on the house like any other buyer once she lists the house for sale, but you will need financing to coplete the purchase. If your contract is accepted as the best offer, then you would own the house, and then receive part of your money back through distribution of your share of the proceeds through the estate.

Richard Sternberg agrees with this answer

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