“How to Sell a House in Queens when Someone Dies”, by George Herrera, Realtor and Co-Owner of the Queens Home Team at Keller Williams Realty. 

We do a lot of property sales related to estates here in Queens, and while they can very sad and sensitive situations, they can also be some of the most fulfilling transactions for us because we get to help family members through a very rough time in their lives. Most of the time we are meeting with sons, daughters, or heirs of the decedent(s) and they are usually still grieving as they are trying to get things in order. In Queens, these sales can get somewhat complicated depending on the situation and probate/administration status. On top of that, many times the heir(s) who are handling everything live outside of Queens so that can also make it very burdensome and overwhelming. Whatever the situation, our goal is always to take the reigns and handle as much as we can for them so that they can grieve and rest knowing that their family member’s estate is being taken care of as desired. For this reason, we set out to create a guide on how to sell a house when someone dies. If you have been placed with the responsibility of handling an estate sale for a deceased loved one, this will help you make sure that you have all your ducks in a row.

The first thing you have to know in these situations is that In New York State, the Surrogate’s Court decides what happens to a person’s property when that person dies. The judge in Surrogate’s Court is called the Surrogate, and the person who died is called the Decedent. That person’s property is called the estate. When a person dies and leaves a Will then they died testate. If the person died without leaving a Will, then they died intestate.

Estate Proceedings

There are three different kinds of estate proceedings in Surrogate’s Court, however, one of them is for descendants who had personal property of $30K or less so for the purposes of this article we will focus on probate and administration proceedings.

Summary:

  • If the Decedent had a will, then you file for probate.
  • If the Decedent didn’t have a will, then you file for administration.

Probate

Probate Proceeding - How to Sell a House in Queens when Someone Dies
If a person dies with a Will, then the kind of proceeding filed is called probate and the property is divided according to the Will. The probate process in Queens can generally take about 11-12 weeks, however, depending on the backlog in the surrogate’s court the process can be quicker or longer. For example, at the time of writing this article we are working with a client who’s probate is going on 4 months and still not complete.

Definition

Probate is the process of proving that the Will is valid. During probate, the Will is proved to the satisfaction of the court that it’s the Last Will and Testament of the person who died. Once the Surrogate (the judge in Surrogate’s Court) is convinced of the validity of the Will, the Executor named in the Will is appointed to distribute the estate and carry out the wishes of the person who died. The Surrogate’s Court oversees this process.

Filing for Probate

When you file for Probate, the Executor named in the will files the original Will, a certified copy of the death certificate, a probate petition and other supporting documents in the Surrogate’s Court in the county where the Decedent had their primary residence. For our purposes, this would be the Queens county surrogates court which is listed below:

88-11 Sutphin Blvd.
Jamaica, NY 11435
Clerk’s Office Phone: (718) 298-0400/0500
Email: qnssurr-info@nycourts.gov
Queens Probate Dept: qnssurr-probate@nycourts.gov

The Decedent’s distributees (or heirs) must also be listed in the probate petition. Distributees must be served with a notice, formally called a citation. The citation gives the Surrogate’s Court jurisdiction over them. This means that the Surrogate’s Court has the authority to determine the rights of the people involved. A citation tells the distributee that the Executor filed for the authority to manage the Decedent’s estate. The distributee can sign a waiver and consent to the appointment of the Executor or come to court to disagree with the appointment. Beneficiaries who will inherit something under the will must be notified of the probate proceeding. The filing fee is based on the size of the estate.

Probate proceedings can be very complicated. In many cases, it might be a good idea to get a lawyer. If you need a recommendation, feel free to contact as we have some Estate Attorneys that we know and trust to help in the matter.

Administration

Administration Proceeding - How to Sell a House in Queens when Someone Dies
Probate Court with probate granted on a Last Will & Testament. The first step in the legal process of administering and transferring ownership of the estate of a deceased person’s wealth, including savings, antiques, property and cars, as designated in the deceased’s will. A Probate Court decides the legal validity of the testator’s will and grants approval thereof to the executors to legally distribute the estate according to the will.

If a person dies without a Will, then the proceeding filed is called administration and the property is divided according to the law. This administration process here in Queens can also take about 11-12 weeks, but again, depending on the backlog in the surrogate’s court the process can be quicker or longer.

Definition

Administration is the process where the Surrogate’s Court issues Letters of Administration to a qualified distributee of the Decedent. Letters of Administration appoints a Decedent’s distributee and gives them the authority to collect and distribute the Decedent’s property according to the law.
If the Decedent’s only asset is real property (i.e. real estate), it may not be necessary to file an administration proceeding depending on who survives the Decedent. By law, real property vests in the Decedent’s distributee at the time of death which makes the distributees the owners of the property. It might be a good idea to contact a real estate attorney and the tax office to get more information. Again, if you need a recommendation, feel free to Contact Us and we would be happy to provide you with a few.

Filing for Administration

In New York there is a rule for who can file the administration proceeding. In general, the person who is the closest distributee (or heir) to the Decedent files for administration. See When There Is No Will.
The closest distributee files a copy of the paid funeral bill, a certified copy of the death certificate with the Petition for Letters of Administration and other supporting documents in the Surrogate’s Court in the county where the Decedent had their primary residence.

The Decedent’s distributees (or heirs) must also be listed in the petition. Distributees must be served with a notice, formally called a citation. The citation gives the Surrogate’s Court jurisdiction over them. This means that the Surrogate’s Court has the authority to determine the rights of the people involved. A citation tells the distributee that someone is asking for Letters of Administration to manage the Decedent’s estate. The distributee can sign a waiver and consent to the appointment of the Administrator or come to court to disagree with the appointment. There may also be a waiver of bond included. The filing fee is based on the size of the estate.

How to Sell a House in Queens when Someone Dies

As you can see, the first step in knowing how to sell a home when someone dies is to make sure the proper proceeding has been filed with the Queens surrogates court. Without this, you would run into a bad situation because you cannot close unless you have the legal right to sell the house. Once you are assigned as the legal executor or administrator, you can then get started with the Queens home selling process. For more information on the listing and selling process in Queens, check out our related post:

24 Steps to Selling a House in Queens NY

Site and blog courtesy of George & Abigail Herrera with the Queens Home Team at Keller Williams Realty Landmark II.

BUY: www.queenshoneteam.com/buy | SELL: www.queenshometeam.com/sell

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