Who signs a contract if the seller is an estate?
The answer to this question depends on the nature of the estate: will or no will? If there is no will then under Virginia law real estate passes by operation of law to the deceased’s heirs, which are determined by statute, and these would be the persons to sign a contract and eventually the deed. If there is a will then typically the real estate passes directly to the persons named in a will also, but it may well be that the executor is directed to sell the property or needs to do so in order to pay debts of the estate. As a result, who signs the contract and will depend on the language of the will. Consequently, whether someone dies with or without a will one should always have a competent and knowledgeable attorney review the situation and the documents in order to render a specific opinion based on a specific set of facts, and bear in mind that in any case documentation (and perhaps probate) will need to be prepared, signed and recorded in order to establish and prove who owns the property – and therefore can sell and sign.

Posted By: Brian D. Lytle, Esq. on Friday, November 13, 2009