5 Unexpected Hurdles When Selling Out of an Estate


Selling a property out of an estate can be a complex and challenging process, and there are several obstacles that agents should be aware of as they navigate the legal and financial difficulties of the situation.

Tracking Down Heirs

The first obstacle is tracking down all the heirs and spouses entitled to a share of the estate. It can be a daunting task, especially if there are estranged family members or beneficiaries living in different states. Agents should be aware that it’s not enough to assume that the executor of the estate can sign the contract alone. It’s important to identify all the rightful heirs and spouses and have them sign the necessary documents.


Another obstacle is judgments. Creditors may have placed a lien on the property if the decedent owed money. To sell the property, agents need to ensure that all liens are satisfied.  Keep in mind that any outstanding judgments that the heirs of the estate have, can also potentially attach to the property.  They can negotiate with creditors or pay off the debt to clear the title.

Getting the Estate Open in the Right County

Agents should also make sure that the estate is open in the correct county where the property is located. This can be challenging, especially if the decedent lived in one county but owned property in another. To overcome this obstacle, agents should work with an experienced attorney who can help them navigate the legal requirements and ensure that the estate is properly opened in the correct county. In many cases, an open estate indemnity agreement will be required. 

Decedent Didn’t Have a Will

In North Carolina, the legal term for dying without a will is dying “intestate.” In such cases, a local probate court will appoint an administrator to oversee the distribution of the decedent’s assets in accordance with North Carolina probate law. The administrator must adhere to state intestacy laws that aim to approximate the final wishes of the average person. However, this can result in additional complexity and delays in the probate process, as the court-appointed administrator may need to conduct a thorough investigation to identify the rightful heirs.

Seller Passes Away While The House is Under Contract

While it’s not a common occurrence, a home seller may pass away after accepting an offer but before the closing date. If the seller dies while the home is under contract, this can create uncertainty and delays in the sale process. However,  the estate is still obligated to honor the terms of the contract, regardless of whether the heirs might otherwise have an expectation to inherit the property. However, given the potential complexities involved in the probate process, delays are to be expected, and it’s important to exercise patience when navigating these situations.

In conclusion, agents selling property out of an estate should be aware of these obstacles and take proactive steps to overcome them. However, working with experienced attorneys can help navigate these complex legal and financial issues, ensuring a smooth sale process and a satisfactory outcome for all parties involved.

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Thomas & Webber Law at the Lake

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