Understanding the Executor's Deed

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An executor's deed is a deed used by an executor to convey or transfer property out of the estate of a person who died with a will.  Although state law governs the information which must be contained in an executor’s deed, the following information is generally required: 

  • The name of the executor;
  • A recital that the executor is conveying the property in his capacity as executor;
  • The name of the decedent (the person who died and left the will);
  • A recital that the deed is being executed pursuant to the terms of the will;
  • A recital that the will has been offered for probate;
  • The legal description of the property being conveyed; and
  • The signature of the executor. 

If the property is being conveyed to a third party, it’s advisable for the heirs of the decedent to execute the deed in conjunction with the executor.  This will prevent future challenges to the conveyance by the heirs. 

In most states, an executor’s deed must be signed by a witness and notarized.  An executor's deed should be recorded in the real estate records of the county in which the property being conveyed is located. 

What is the Difference between an Executor’s Deed and an Administrator’s Deed?

Although an executor’s deed and an administrator’s deed accomplish the same goal – transferring title to the property of the decedent – they are not the same.  An administrator’s deed is used to transfer the property of a decedent who died without a will.  The probate court must appoint an administrator and vest him with the power to transfer title to the decedent’s real estate. 

Can the Heirs of the Decedent Sell the Property without the Consent of the Executor?

If a person dies with a will, title to his real estate vests in the executor subject to approval of the probate court.  This means that the decedent’s heirs cannot sell the property without the consent of the executor because they have no legal interest in it.  Until such time as the executor transfers title to the property to the heirs, they have no authority to sell it.  However, if the heirs wish to sell the property and the executor determines that selling it will be in the best interests of the estate, he may do so.  In such instances, the net proceeds of the sale would be distributed to the heirs pursuant to the terms of the decedent’s will.

Getting Legal Help

If you have been named as an executor of a person’s estate and plan to sell property of the estate, you should speak with a qualified real estate attorney.  A real estate attorney will draft the executor's deed in conformance with state law, assist you in properly executing it, and will have it recorded in the county property records.

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