Real estate holdings in an estate may constitute the most valuable estate asset. A decedent may have owned a residence such as a single or multi-family house, a cooperative apartment or a condominium unit. In view of the increase in value these assets have experienced, the disposition of such interests is very important to estate settlement and the estate beneficiaries.
New York City Estate Lawyers encounter many estate planning matters and estate administration situations where real estate must be dealt with. When planning an estate with real estate, a testator needs to consider the best or most likely disposition for the real estate upon death. In many cases, the best course to follow may be to have the real estate sold and the net proceeds distributed to the estate beneficiaries. When there are numerous beneficiaries, it can be very cumbersome for a number of different people to own the property. This type of situation often leads to disputes among beneficiaries since some may want to sell the property while others may want to keep the property for rental purposes or to live in.There are many estate litigation cases in the Surrogate’s Court where beneficiaries engage in disputes regarding the sale or possession of a decedent’s real estate. A typical example of such a dispute was presented to Bronx Surrogate Nelida Malave Gonzalez. In the Estate of Sjostrom, decided by the Court on April 5, 2016, the decedent left real estate that was specifically devised to the decedent’s spouse and two daughter’s by his Will.
The decedent’s spouse, who was the estate executor, wanted to sell the house but could not obtain the consent of all of the other beneficiaries. While an executor has the general power to sell property, where there is a specific devise of realty, the property ownership possess directly to the named beneficiaries upon death unless the property needs to be sold to satisfy estate obligations. While the Surrogate found that there was no authority for the Executor to sell the house, the Court did authorize the Executor to commence a partition action in Supreme Court to obtain an Order for the house sale.
As can be seen from Sjostrom, the administration of real estate interests can be complicated and lead to litigation in an estate. I have represented estate beneficiaries and fiduciaries in regard to estate administration of real estate. If you have any questions regarding Estate Probate or Estate Litigation, call me now to discuss your problem.
It is also important to remember that effective Estate Planning that takes into account the need for proper disposition of real estate can help avoid the disruption of estate administration and the delay of distribution of assets to estate beneficiaries.
New York Trusts and Estates Attorney Jules Martin Haas has helped many clients over the past 30 years resolve issues relating to probate and estate settlement throughout New York City including Manhattan and Brooklyn. If you or someone you know has any questions regarding these matters, please contact me at (212) 355-2575 for an initial consultation.
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