Do All Heirs Have to Agree to Sell The Estate’s Property in Florida?
When a Florida resident passes away owning real estate or other assets, their heirs are often left with uncertainty about whether the property can be sold or must remain in the family.
Can the executor sell it without approval from everyone? What if some heirs want to sell, but others want to keep the property? These disputes over inherited property can fracture families at an already challenging time.
As an experienced Florida probate and estate planning law firm, Stivers Law guides clients through these sensitive matters to protect inheritance rights and honor your loved one’s wishes.
To guide your next steps, we’ll provide an overview of the rules in Florida on whether agreement from all heirs is needed to sell property from an estate or trust. We’ll also discuss options available if you want to prevent a sale and when it’s crucial to consult an attorney to assist in resolving heir disputes over property.
The Executor or Administrator Has the Power to Sell Property
In most cases, the person appointed as executor under the will or as administrator by the probate court has the legal authority to sell property without approval from heirs. This power comes from the Florida Probate Code, which allows them to take actions needed to settle the estate.
So if someone leaves their house to their three children, the executor named in the will could decide to sell the house without needing approval from the heirs.
Of course, just because executors have this power doesn’t mean they should use it freely without consulting the beneficiaries. Selling property that heirs want to keep or selling real property below market value may lead to disputes and allegations of breach of fiduciary duty. Most executors will try to get agreement from everyone first, even if not legally required.
Exceptions – When Heir Approval Is Needed to Sell the Property
While the default rule gives broad power to the administrator or executor, there are some important exceptions where the heirs must approve selling estate property:
The Will Specifically Restricts Sales
If the decedent put language in their will directing that a particular property shall not be sold or cannot be sold without the beneficiaries’ agreement, that restriction must be followed. The named executor only has powers given by the will itself.
The Property Was Transferred Before Death
Another time heir approval is needed is if the decedent had transferred full or partial ownership of the property before passing away.
For example, if the decedent transferred ownership of their homestead property into joint tenancy with their children or created a life estate arrangement allowing the decedent to live there until they passed away, then the heirs would hold the remaining interest after the decedent’s death. In those cases, all of the heirs would need to consent to selling the property.
The executor has no power over property the decedent didn’t fully own at the time of death.
The Estate Is Closed
Once the executor has finished probate and distributed the assets, the estate no longer exists. If the property was transferred to heirs as part of this distribution, they jointly inherit it. Selling it at this point requires them all to agree to sell the property.
How to Stop a Sale You Disagree With
What if you’re an heir who doesn’t want certain estate property sold, but the executor moves ahead with listing it anyway? There are a few options available in Florida:
File an Objection in Probate Court
Heirs have the right to raise objections if they believe the executor or administrator has breached their fiduciary duties. This could include trying to sell property in a manner that goes against the decedent’s wishes or selling it below fair market value.
You would need to gather evidence and file papers with the probate court to try and stop the sale. The burden would be on you to prove the executor’s actions are improper.
Seek a Court Injunction
Heirs may also have the option to seek an urgent court injunction to stop an impending sale. This involves asking the probate court judge to issue an order preventing the sale from moving forward.
However, the bar is high to obtain an injunction. You would need to clearly demonstrate not just that the sale may be improper but also that allowing it to proceed right now would cause immediate irreparable harm. Further, you must have a strong likelihood of ultimately proving in court that the executor breached their legal duties. Given these stringent requirements, an injunction may not be an easily obtained option.
Attempt to Buy Out Other Heirs
Instead of going to court, working privately with the other heirs is another option. If some heirs want to sell, but you want to keep the property, you could potentially negotiate to purchase their ownership interests.
This allows you to buy the property yourself, while those who were looking to cash out still get paid. It keeps things out of court and within the family.
Consult an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney for Guidance
The intricacies of probate administration and inherited property sales can quickly become complex. Every family’s situation is unique and may have specific nuances. Before moving forward, it is prudent to consult an experienced probate attorney who can review your case details and documents.
An estate planning lawyer can provide guidance on the executor’s powers, your rights under the will or trust, and your options for resolving any disputes that arise over the disposition of property inherited from a loved one.
At Stivers Law, we have in-depth expertise dealing with heir disputes, breach of fiduciary duty claims, and objections over improper sales or actions by an executor or administrator. We assist clients with understanding their rights and pursuing all appropriate legal remedies to protect their inheritance. Please do not hesitate to reach out if we can be of service – we are here to help provide clarity and support during this difficult time.
Get Help Protecting Your Inheritance and Honoring Your Loved One’s Wishes
Losing someone close to you is painful enough without having to fight over their property. At Stivers Law, we’re committed to guiding families through these trying times with compassion and sound legal advice. We strive to protect your rights as an heir while making sure your loved one’s wishes are carried out properly.
We can help you understand your options, negotiate solutions between heirs, and take legal action if needed to prevent an improper sale or breach of fiduciary duty by the executor. Don’t go through this alone – call Stivers Law today to schedule a consultation. Let us put our experience to work for you and your family.