Can the contents of a house be auctioned off before the home goes through probate?

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Can the contents of a house be auctioned off before the home goes through probate?

My father passed this year in Missouri. There
wasnt a will nor a transfer deed. The house is
worth approx. 40,000 and the contents maybe
another 8,000-10,000. Can we sell the
contents before the home goes through the
probate court?

Asked on November 9, 2018 under Estate Planning, Missouri

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

Yes, the personal representative or administrator (either term may be used) appointed by and given authority over the estate by the court can sell the estate's goods or contents. (You must have a court-appointed personal representative or administrator, who is basically the "executor" when there is no will, since only that person has the legal authority over the estate and its assets; if you don't have one yet, contact the probate court and ask about applying to have someone appointed.)
The money from selling the items cannot be distributed to any heirs or beneficiaries until probate is over and the court approves the distribution (and until any creditors of the deceased have had a chance to put in their claims, if they choose to do so); it must be kept in an estate bank account or can be used to pay estate expenses, whether legal (e.g. filing fees, lawyer fees) or the costs to preserve/maintain other estate property (e.g. pay the mortage, taxes, insurance, utilties for, and make necessary repairs to, the house).


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