An executor who refuses to sell an inherited home, is opening themselves up to legal actions. Beneficiaries have rights, and one of those is to have an executor fulfill his or her legal obligations.
Nj.com’s recent article, “What happens when siblings can’t agree about selling parents’ home” explains that even though an executor has some discretion in administering the estate, they have a duty to settle and distribute the estate expeditiously and efficiently for the best interest of the beneficiaries.
Unless the parent’s will has specific instructions for the home, the executor—at their discretion—has two choices. They may sell it and distribute the net proceeds. The other option is to distribute the home “in kind” to the beneficiaries. That means retitling a deed from the estate to the beneficiaries as tenants in common. If the property is distributed in kind, the beneficiaries will then own the property jointly and will be jointly obligated on the home equity loan. State law may dictate that this loan isn’t not paid off with other estate assets, unless specifically instructed in the will.
Creditors have a specific time period in which to present a claim to the executor. However, if an estate has been open for a very long period of time, and family members think that the executor isn’t fulfilling her obligations, they may sue to have the executor discharged and a new one appointed. The court may discharge an executor for not obeying a court order, like filing an accounting or an inventory of estate assets.
Once the court gets involved, things can turn ugly for the family. Heirs can ask the court to direct the executor to perform specific actions, and the hope is that the executor will wake up and take the court’s order seriously. It’s a terrible legacy for a family, but unfortunately one that does occur often enough.
While this can be a reality for some families, the best way to combat and disagreement is through a lot of communication about your estate plan and expectations for your family once you pass. These are the kind of topics we address in our Family Care MeetingTM that we facilitate for clients.
To learn more about the Family Care MeetingTM and how it can benefit your family, and other estate planning topics, visit our website today and schedule your consultation!
Reference: nj.com (October 4, 2018) “What happens when siblings can’t agree about selling parents’ home”