executor selling property

I am the executor of my fathers will he is still alive. He has a regular Will, written that I am the executor and all proceeds from the house and all other assets get split between myself and my 2 siblings. Does either sibling have any say over how much I sell the house for? My mom died a few years ago, with no will and the three of us argued intensely over the sale price of her house. I’m just trying to avoid that with my dad’s property.

Asked on October 6, 2017 under Estate Planning, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

They don't have a direct say, BUT an executor is bound by a fiduciary duty: a law-imposed duty to act in the interests of the heirs/beneficiaries, with reasonable care and diligence, and in accordance with the will. What this means in practice is that any property has a fair or reasonable range of prices for which it may go for, given location, condition, size, etc. (e.g. a house might reasonable sell for  between $450k and $525k, depending the market conditions, how you stage it, and the possible buyers who look at it); as long as you sell within that range, there is no credible challenge to your decision, but if you sell for less than what is fair or reasonable, the other heirs/beneficiaries could bring a legal action to hold you accountable, if a court were to decide that you failed to exercies reasonable judgment or act in the other heirs/beneficiaries' interests. (E.g if you sold below market value to a friend of yours, to a business you an interest in, etc.--if you did those things, if a legal action were brought, the court could require you to pay out the difference between what you should have sold it for and what you did sell it for to the others.) For this reason, it's not a bad idea to get the other heirs/beneficiaries consent or "buy-in" to the price, to avoid a later challenge to it.


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