If I am appointed the executor of a will of my parent and we are to sell and distribute the assets left equally, do I have the ‘right’ or ‘power’ to determine how the house will be sold?

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If I am appointed the executor of a will of my parent and we are to sell and distribute the assets left equally, do I have the ‘right’ or ‘power’ to determine how the house will be sold?

Do I need to have permission from siblings as to how the house will be sold? i.e. – can I decide to spend a little money to make the house more marketable even if my siblings do not feel that I should do it that way?

Asked on April 16, 2018 under Estate Planning, Maine

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

You don't need to affirmatively seek or obtain their permission: it is your responsibilty to manage the estate and give effect to the will, and you may use your reasonable judgment in doing so. If a sibling feels you are wasting money foolishly or perhaps diverting it to yourself or a friend/colleague (e.g. hiring a friend to do work on the house), that sibling would have the right to bring a legal action in court for "an accounting": that is, to make you account for your actions and show that they are in the interests of the estate and heirs and in accordance with the will. If your actions were not in the estate's, etc.'s, interests (i.e. you did foolishly overspend), a court could potentially order you to pay money to the estate, to make up for the loss--but someone would have to incur the cost and trouble of bringing that lawsuit, then prove their case. Until and unless someone does take legal action, you may manage the estate without  your sibling's consent.


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