what are my rights

We have a contract on the purchase of a condo, we are within 1 week of our final
closing when the actual seller who is a widow with children dies. Now for whatever
reason these contracts on the house are in probate. We currently live in an
apartment and have given proper notice of leaving. In fact we bought out of our
lease. The unit has since been released by the management, giving us no place to go
and no place to stay. If that’s not enough we had some overseas items shipped to be
delivered after our original closing date.We only heard about this on Thursday night
one week to the day before walk through 1 day before closing.

Asked on March 18, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

An executory contract (contract to do something--like sell a house) which has not yet been performed becomes null and void when the person making the contract dies--a dead person cannot sell a house. The heirs or beneficiaries are not bound, if they did not sign the contract; and not only is the estate not bound, but even if the personal representative (executor or court appointed administrator) wished to sell to you--which he or she may well want to do--he or she has to wait until he or she gets authority from the court to do this, which can take weeks or longer. It does not not matter what the impact on you is: legally, not only can you not enforce this contract against a dead person, but the estate representative almost certainly does not yet have legal authority to go through with the sale even if she or he wishes to. There may be nothing you can do: the sale will at least be delayed until the personal representative gets authority to act, and could be over if the personal representative decides to not sell. You may be able to sue the estate for monetary compensation for the costs and losses you thereby incur. You need to speak with a probate attorney (one who understands what happens with legal obligations after someone dies) to fully understand your rights and options, but expect that, as stated, the least of what you'll encounter is a delay.


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