Selling a NJ Property When the Owner has Passed Away

If you have recently experienced the loss of a parent, grandparent, or other close relative – first and foremost you have our sincere condolences. Making big decisions at a time like this can be difficult, as it can often be challenging to even manage regular, everyday life choices while grieving. It’s so unfortunate, then, that when a person close to us dies, we are often the one(s) charged with making very important and sometimes complex decisions regarding their estate.

It goes without saying that selling someone’s home is a lot easier when they’re alive as compared to after they’ve passed away. However, it’s not impossible, and there are a lot of resources for those who need to sell a home of a deceased owner in New Jersey.

To wit: New Jersey estate laws state that a deceased homeowner’s property can only be liquidated (sold) after the decedent’s will has been filed in Surrogate’s Court. Once a NJ will is filed, an executor will be named. To read more about what a New Jersey executor’s duties are, you can visit our blog post on that very topic.

In relation to selling the deceased’s real property, the estate executor (or executrix/female executor) must obtain Letters Testamentary from the Surrogate’s Court. To translate that legalese for you: this is a document that formally allows the estate executor to begin the process of selling the decedent’s home.

What if my parent died and didn’t leave a will?

When a NJ homeowner dies without a will, that means no executor has been named. While this may initially feel disastrous (as many things will in the aftermath of the death of a loved one), the simple recourse is that an heir to the estate simply requests to become the estate administrator. The legal form to request in this situation is called Letters of Administration.

Once there is an established executor or administrator, the sale of the home can move forward. The executor or administrator will be the only person qualified to sign any documents relating to the sale of the property (deed, real estate contract). This person will be signing “on behalf” of the decedent’s estate.

How can I get the New Jersey estate tax lien removed?

In New Jersey, estate taxes and inheritance taxes will be due upon the sale of the home of someone who has passed away. When the executor or administrator moves to sell the home, these taxes will appear as a “cloud” on a title report, which can give buyers pause. In order to ease the minds of potential buyers, the executor/administrator must apply for a NJ tax waiver. The good news is that this will ultimately release the lien. The bad news is that it can take awhile to receive the waiver.

Do I have to wait to sell my mother’s home until the NJ tax lien is removed from the title?

This is a common question asked by estate executors in NJ, and luckily it is one with the answer you’re probably looking for. You do NOT have to wait until the lien is removed to sell the home. Because NJ real estate transactions require “clear title” in order to progress, the executor or administrator can deposit enough money into an escrow account to be held until the taxes are paid. This act gives buyers peace of mind and will allow the sale of the home to move forward.

Can I sell my deceased parent’s home on my own?

Because of the relatively complex legal process involved in selling the home of a decedent in New Jersey, it is a good idea to work with a NJ estate planning attorney to ensure that you dot all of your I’s and cross all of your T’s.

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