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Can Executor Hire a Realtor and Sell House From Under Deeded Heirs?

Attorney Thomas B. Burton answers the following question: "Can an Executor Hire a Realtor and Sell House From Under Deeded Heirs?"

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Hello, I'm Attorney Thomas Burton. I'm an estate planning and asset protection attorney here in Wisconsin and today's question comes from Milwaukee.

"Can an executor enlist a realtor and sell a house from under deeded heirs? My mom's house was deeded over upon her passing to my brother and myself. My brother is the executor of the estate. Can my brother enlist to realtor and sell if both of us are listed on the deed now. He has taken over and enlisted an estate sales place to clean up and sell things in the house without my input."

Okay so if you were already on the deed and it passed by a deed upon your mother's passing, then it passed outside probate and the will, the executor under the will only has authority over the probate assets. So if you're already on the title to the house, you and your brother now control it likely that you're listed as tenants in common meaning you each have 50% of the property and can do whatever you want with your half including sell it.

So look at how the deed lists you but basically, if you're already on the deed, you have a voice in this because you're a current co-owner of the property. If the house was being sold under the will by the executor on behalf of the estate then the executor alone would have the authority to hire the realtor but if you are already a co-owner, I suggest you work together with your brother to find a realtor that's suitable to both of you if your goal is to indeed sell the property and if you're confused about the deed further, I would consult with a local attorney who can review the actual deed to the house now and tell you what your legal rights are under the way the title to the home is held.

So again, if your brother is the personal representative or executor, what we call the executor in Wisconsin is personal representative, he does have authority to make decisions under the will but if you're already a co-owner of the real estate then that changes things and you have a right to your half of the property. But again, it's very hard to sell one half of a house, so if your goal is to sell the house, the best bet is for you to cooperate and find a realtor that you both agree to hire and if you are on the deed and that realtor does get hired, he would want to have you both sign the agreement to hire him.

Again, if it's still confusing, I would have the deed and the will reviewed by your own attorney so you can get the best advice possible.

Great question and thank you for asking!

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