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Can an executor sell the home in the estate to a co executor at a discount without approval from the beneficiary?

Pittsburgh, PA |

In Pennsylvania

Attorney Answers 3


It depends. You do not provide enough information to competently evaluate the claim. There obviously is a will if there are executors. However, you do not indicate what the land is valued at, if its encumbered, what other probate assets are in the estate, what the will said about who was to get the land (was it the beneficiary? The executor?) Did the executor have the authority to sell in the will? Does the estate have an attorney?

The answers to these questions may affect the answer. Your post suggests that the executors have conspired or colluded to deprive the beneficiary of an asset in contravention of the will. If, in fact, this is what is going on, this would be improper. Just so you know, as per PA statute, title to real estate usually vests in the beneficiaries, so review of the will is necessary to see who was to inherit the real property. If what you are suggesting (impropriety that is) is happening then the beneficiary should run to a probate attorney who practices in the county where the estate is pending and take action immediately to get a stay and enjoin the conveyance of the property

However, if the will gives the executor the authority to sell the land, then any beneficiaries of the state do not have to approve. It may be that the land is encumbered, there are debts in the probate estate and not enough to pay them. If the estate has an attorney, the executor may have used his/her authority to sell the land, thereby getting rid of an estate burden, and bringing money into the estate which can be used to pay claims. Also, what evidence do you have that the home was sold at a "discount?" Real estate valuation depends on lots of things - at the core, its what a willing buyer is willing to sell for and what a willing buyer is willing to pay. You can have a rare antique car allegedly worth $100,000 but if no willing buyers are willing to pay that, then the car is not worth $100,000. Same for land. And if the estate needs cash, this puts a different perspective on things - if land has to be sold, there are advertising costs and costs of hiring a realtor and paying commission. If a co-executor is willing to pay cash now, especially if the land is encumbered by a mortgage or lien, maybe its worth a discount if the land can be sold for cash now.

I don't know and neither may you unless you have some evidence other than your opinion/belief. That is why you need to see a probate lawyer now and pay him/her to review the will and estate filed and see if things are or are not proper.

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The last time i visited that subject, here in Allegheny County, an executor needs to seek court approval to purchase real estate owned by an estate. If the beneficiary is in agreement with it, things should go well with the judge.

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Probably Not. A significant reason for the administration of an estate by co-executors is to ensure that the beneficiary receives the most he or she is entitled to receive in inherirtance. It is a conflict of interest for a co-executor to purchase an estate asset, especially at a discount.

Has the home been listed for sale with a real estate agent? If not, then likely it should be.

The other alternative is to obtain 2 apprailsals from 2 disinterested appraisers to determine its fair market value. The, a petition is filed with the Orphans' Court Division seeking approval of the sale at a price in an amount between the two appraisal amounts. The beneficiary would be served with the petition and, if/she so chose, could obtain an appraisal by and appraiser of his/her own choosing.

Be extremely careful. Selling real estate "at a discount" to a co-executor can land both co-executors into big trouble.

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