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Selling Property Left Behind By A Loved One: Deceased Estate Sales Explained

By Dominique McKenzie
Selling a property left behind by a loved one can be a challenging and emotional process. However, understanding how estate sales work can help alleviate some of the burden. In this article, we’ll provide valuable insights and tips to make the process smoother and less stressful.

1. Handling the Deceased Estate Property:

The deceased estate property is treated like any other real estate transaction, with the executor of the Will becoming the vendor if they decide to sell the property. They typically obtain a formal property valuation and engage a real estate agent to manage the sale. However, there are some legal issues specific to deceased estates that need to be considered.

2. Know the Legal Requirements:

Dealing with a deceased estate involves specific legal considerations. The executor of the Will becomes the vendor responsible for selling the property, just like any other real estate transaction. However, the laws and processes can vary depending on the state where the property is located. Ensure you’ve investigated the legal requirements in your area:

QLD: Visit the Queensland Government website here.

NT: Visit the Northern Territory Government website here.

NSW: Visit the Supreme Court of New South Wales website here.

ACT: Visit Public Trustee & Guardian for the Australian Capital Territory website here.

VIC: Visit the Supreme Court of Victoria website here.

SA: Visit Public Trustee South Australia website here.

WA: Visit the Western Australia Government website here.

TAS: Visit the Supreme Court of Tasmania website here.

3. Transparency and Appraisals:

Transparency is crucial when selling a deceased estate. To determine the property’s value, your executor should obtain multiple appraisals from real estate agents. This step ensures fairness and accuracy during the sales process.

4. Consider an Auction:

If the property has multiple beneficiaries, selling it through an auction might be a wise choice. An auction offers an open and transparent process where all involved parties can witness the negotiation, making it a popular method for deceased estate sales.

5. Organise Ownership Transfer:

Before selling the property, ensure that the title has been transferred from the deceased to the joint tenant, executor, or personal representative. Without proper ownership transfer, the property cannot be sold or transferred to the purchaser.

6. Grant of Probate Requirement:

In Australia, a grant of probate or letters of administration is necessary before selling a house in a deceased estate. This legal document grants the executor the authority to deal with the deceased’s estate as per their will. Exceptions to this requirement exist for joint tenants.

7. Awareness of Executor Obligations:

Executors need to be aware of potential tax implications and various legal requirements. Final tax returns may be required for the deceased, covering the financial year to the date of death, and possibly an estate return from the date of death to the end of the financial year. Empathy and experience in dealing with deceased estates are essential qualities for the chosen real estate agent.

8. Considerations for Transferring Assets, Claims Against the Estate, Superannuation, and Family Trusts:

Executors should consider factors like transferring assets to beneficiaries, dealing with inheritance claims and disputes among family members, handling superannuation accounts, and managing family trusts and private companies.

9. Selecting the Right Real Estate Agent:

Choosing an experienced and empathetic real estate agent is crucial, as handling a deceased estate sale requires sensitivity and understanding due to the emotional aspect involved.

Selling a property from a deceased estate requires understanding the legal processes and potential complexities involved. By following these tips and seeking the right assistance, you can navigate the sales process more smoothly during this emotionally challenging time.

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