Keep the Deal Alive, Even with a Deceased Seller
You have a brand new listing, it’s been on the market less than 24 hours, and you have received multiple offers. However, you quickly realize that you have been working with a relative and not the property owner, the seller. Selling a home with a deceased seller doesn’t have to be a dead deal, in fact, here are a few helpful tips to keep the contract and closing alive!
A court-appointed personal representative of the decedent’s estate is the only person that has authority to sign a contract, not just any friend or relative! Defining the personal representative of the estate on a typical AS IS Residential Contract is important. A deceased Seller on typical AS IS Residential Contract should be as follows: “[Insert personal representative name] as personal representative of the estate of [insert decedent’s name.]” Not only will defining the Seller like this provide and confirm who has authority to sign the contract, but puts all parties on notice that probate is involved with the sale!
It is important to know that additional documentation will be needed as part of closing. At minimum, the death certificate of the deceased will always be a title requirement. Other notarized affidavits that confirm the decedent’s marital and homestead status will likely need to be executed with closing documents. Additionally, probate documents will need to be recorded as part of the transaction. It is also important to determine if there is a surviving spouse, and how the property was not only purchased but titled.
Probate does NOT need to be finalized before the sale. However, there are important Judge’s orders that are key to effectuate a sale: First, an Order Admitting Will and Appointing Personal Representative; Second, Letters of Administration. Third, an Order Determining Homestead (if applicable); and Fourth, an Order Authorizing Sale.
Once you have the Judge’s orders to proceed, the closing can occur once the title underwriter has determined that all necessary orders have been entered and recorded!
If you find yourself working with a deceased seller, be sure that the contract is signed by the personal representative of the estate, and that the probate process has been initiated to assist with a smooth contract to closing experience. Please contact your local trusted real estate attorney, if you need further assistance with this matter.