How to Sell a Deceased Estate
How to Sell a Deceased Estate

Selling property left behind by a loved one can make a difficult time more stressful, but understanding how deceased estate sales work can ease the burden.

Deceased estate property is handled in the same way as any other real estate transaction, with a few exceptions.

While there are legal issues to consider, the executor of the Will essentially becomes the vendor if the property is to be sold. They normally get a formal valuation and then engage a real estate agent to manage the sale, like any other seller would. The laws and processes for selling an inherited property can change depending on the state the property is located.

As part of the process, an executor – or personal representative – can help you with protecting (or selling) a deceased person’s property. They should make sure that all taxes and debts have been paid off, and that all entitlements have been transferred to the right people owed. If the property has multiple beneficiaries, it could be wise to sell the property quickly via auction. and confirm the payment of the will.

Unless the title has been transferred from the deceased to the joint tenant, executor, or personal representative, the property can’t be sold – or transferred to the purchaser.


In Australia, you need a grant of probate – or grant of letters of administration – before a house can be sold. A grant of probate is a legal document that gives an executor authority to deal with the estate of the deceased according to their will. The exception to needing a grant of probate is you hold a property as joint tenants (for example, when you’re part of a couple with assets in both names).

An executor might still enter into a sale contract before a grant of probate is issued, but a Will can’t be administered – and settlement can’t happen – until after a probate has been received. It usually takes at least four weeks to get. Using a lawyer isn’t mandatory, but the process is generally easier and quicker if done by an experienced practitioner.

To get a grant of probate there is a mandatory advertising period, during which the lawyer will get all the needed documents ready and then after 14 days, they are filed. If all are in order, it takes about two weeks to come through. A property can be sold subject to a grant of probate, which is noted on the contract.

Process of Selling a Deceased Estate

  1. First, the executor applies for a grant of probate. Alternatively, a beneficiary can apply for a grant of letters of administration.
  2. The executor then applies to have the title changed from the name(s) of the deceased to their own name.
  3. The executor collects multiple quotes for any costs related to selling the property. This can include agents – as well as contractors – when there are repairs to be done.
  4. The executor then prepares the house for sale. They also work with the agent to list the property for sale.
  5. The executor should aim to maintain transparency, keeping beneficiaries informed throughout the process.
  6. When the property is sold, the executor distributes the funds to the beneficiaries, according to what’s outlined in the will

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How to Sell a Deceased Estate