Q: Is a listing agreement that doesn't include the names of all the owners of a property valid?
There a three owners listed on the deed, two are deceased and not included as owners of the property on the listing agreement. The heirs of the deceased owners have been asked to sign the listing agreement. Can the exclusion of the deceased owners in the listing agreement create any legal problems or issues for their heirs who signed the agreement?
A: The listing agreement only binds the people who signed it. So, in Virginia, where title passes outside probate to the heirs subject to recapture by the personal representative to pay debts, the heirs are not bound by an agreement they didn't sign. They don't have to sell. But, if the listing agreement calls for the signing parties to pay the broker if they don't sell, the ones who did sign it may owe the broker the brokerage fee.
A: A dead person does not own anything. He/she is gone. Anything that deceased person owned now belongs to someone else. That someone else is determined by a variety of methods including how title/ownership was held by the dead person and what Mr. Sternberg explains in his answer. You need to determine who owns the property now and those are the people that should be part of the contract to make this a smooth transfer of ownership to the new buyer.
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