Can an Executor Sell a House Without Beneficiaries Approving?

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Are you the executor of a will looking to sell a house or property? One of the first questions is whether you can sell real estate without approval from all beneficiaries. When an executor is named, a probate referee will be appointed to appraise all the assets in the estate.

Once a value is established, the executor may decide to sell the estate, including property and all assets, for up to 90 percent of its appraised value, without the court’s permission or the beneficiaries.

While an executor may sell property through a real estate agent or if you sell your house for cash without approval from each beneficiary named in the will, a notice must be sent to all beneficiaries to notify them of the sale.

It’s essential to understand how estates may be impacted when a house or property is sold under these circumstances, which may impact the process of selling property, court approval, and legal advice.

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What Happens When an Estate Goes Through Probate?

If the deceased person didn’t adequately plan, their estate might need to go through probate court. This process involves placing all assets in a trust, then naming the beneficiaries. 

Once an executor is named and the estate assets are appraised, they can sell without the beneficiaries’ involvement or court approval if they receive at least 90 percent of this value.

If an executor cannot sell for this amount, they must go to court to obtain consent before the personal property can be transferred.

man handing home key

Executors of a Will: What Can They Do and Cannot Do?

Executors are responsible for handling the deceased’s final wishes, which can involve estate administration, seeking legal advice with a probate lawyer, reviewing estate debts, and appraising assets, including the most valuable, which is usually the deceased’s home.

In many cases, the surviving spouse is the estate executor, or it may be a parent or surviving child, and often the beneficiaries are family members. For this reason, the will requires careful discussion and consideration to determine how to proceed.

An executor can perform the following when handling an estate:

  • Make partial or complete payments towards the estate, including property taxes, utility bills on the home, and other fees associated with the deceased estate property.
  • Validate the will and items related to the estate in probate court.
  • Handle the distribution of assets and property according to the inheritance in the will.
  • Manage the estate and testator’s assets until the assets and property are sold and distributed to the beneficiaries.

An estate executor cannot sign the will on behalf of the testator, make decisions regarding the will, including executing the will before the testator is deceased or stop anyone from contesting the will or any instructions associated with it.

Getting familiar with the legal limitations and options involved with handling an estate is crucial. The executor cannot change beneficiaries as they are named in the will, though if there are any concerns, this would need to be addressed in court with a probate attorney.

Steps an Executor Must Take to Sell a House

When the estate and will are validated in probate court, the executor becomes in charge of the will, which allows them to sell property included in the estate.

The probate process includes a court order that may include a timeline, regulations, and other guidelines to prevent legal issues when handling the estate as the executor. It’s essential to have a personal representative who can advise handling the sale of a house or property.

Since the home initially belonged to the deceased, officially listing a property with a real estate agent can be challenging and often more complicated than a regular house listing in the real estate market. 

This process makes estate planning and assistance with an expert personal representative ideal, as you’ll get acquainted with estate law, family law, and other legal matters related to selling a home and executing an estate.


In general, executors can sell a property without the approval of beneficiaries when the sale is at least 90 percent of its appraised value. When a property can’t be sold at this value, the executor must go to court to obtain consent to transfer the property.

If a buyer is willing to purchase the property for the contract price, the court may approve this new buyer to buy the house. It’s always best to review all your options when selling a property as part of an estate to avoid legal issues and better understand all your options.

Ideally, advance estate planning is the best way to avoid complex issues or misinterpretations when handling a loved one’s will. Discussing these details with family members is important so that real property, selling the home, if you want to sell your house for cash, and other details are clearly outlined for all beneficiaries and the executor. There are lots of cash home buyer companies out there to help you.


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