During probate, there are a number of tasks that must be accomplished by the personal representative. The personal representative, also sometimes called the executor in other jurisdictions, is responsible for notifying potential heirs and beneficiaries, providing legal notice to creditors, filing an estate inventory, and a litany of other tasks. One important job of the personal representative is to collect all of the assets of the estate. In some cases, the assets of the estate may need to be sold during probate.
The biggest asset for the vast majority of people will be their real estate. People labor for many years to purchase a home and sometimes vacation property or investment property in order to ensure financial stability for themselves and their families. In the case where a decedent has left a specific will, the personal representative needs to refer back to the will to see what the decedent stated about how the real estate should be handled. If the decedent made a particular bequest of the real estate, then the personal representative typically needs to abide by that. However, there will be many other cases where there is no exact statement about the real estate or where the debts of the estate outweigh the assets. In such a situation, the personal representative may need to sell the home. This may be done even over the objections of the beneficiaries of the estate. Once the real estate is sold, the net proceeds will be part of the estate and then used to pay off the debts of the estate, in the priority provided by Minnesota law. An important exception to this is if the real estate is classified as a homestead. If that is the case, the personal representative cannot sell, mortgage, or lease the property unless the surviving spouse consents. Moreover, homes classified as a homestead are exempt from many types of debt claims.
Note that once the decedent passes away, only the personal representative will have the authority to sell assets belonging to the decedent. Anyone else does not have the authority to act on behalf of the estate and cannot dispose of estate assets in any way, including by sale, without express authority to do so.
The probate process can be challenging. We have experience helping our clients with these issues. Call us today at (320) 299-4249 let us help you.