When you’re the executor of a property you have full control over what happens to the estate of the deceased, as long as there are no living joint owners or a clause in the will that states otherwise.
If a property is owned jointly with another person, then this will either be as a joint tenant or a tenant in common. As joint tenants, you both own the property and have no identifiable share. When one person dies their share automatically goes to the surviving co-owner. We talk more about options for joint owners in our post on inheriting a house. As tenants in common, each person owns a specific portion of the property.
An executor of a will must send a Deceased Joint Proprietor form to the Land Registry, along with a death certificate, when the property is jointly owned. This will get the deceased person’s name removed from the title deeds.
In the case of tenants in common or if the property was owned solely in the deceased’s name, then the executor must check the terms of the will for instructions regarding the property. At times a will specifies that the property, or share of it, must be held in a trust for the beneficiary until a specific time. Whatever the instructions, the executor must adhere to them.
If there are no provisions in the will then the executor must do as they see fit.
Can an executor sell without all beneficiaries approving?
If the executor wishes to sell the property then they can. Any other beneficiaries of a will have no special rights, although they can take legal action if they believe the executor has sold the property for less than it is worth or has let their judgement be clouded by personal feelings. The executor certainly shouldn’t sell a property for personal gain.
The executor has overall authority and is entitled to accept an offer from a buyer. However, they must sell the property for a reasonable sum in order to act in the best interests of all beneficiaries.
If there are any debts remaining belonging to the deceased then the executor must use money from the sale of the property to pay these off first. This will mean that any beneficiaries with a stake in the profits from a sale, will receive less money, however the reasoning behind it is valid. Therefore, they cannot appeal against it in this instance.
Being an executor isn’t an easy task, especially if the person appointed is dealing with the grief of their loved one passing. Although they have complete control of the property, and what happens to it, it might be worth discussing options with any beneficiaries to make sure that everyone is on the same page. As a group, it can be decided whether the property is put on the market to await an offer or whether a quick cash buyer like The Property Buying Company might be a less stressful option.