One of the primary assets which may be owned by a trust or estate is real estate. This asset may be in the form of residential real property or commercial property. Also, other types of similar assets should be included in the discussion. A condominium unit is real property but is typically in the form of a residential apartment. A cooperative apartment, while appearing to be real estate, is, in fact, personal property. The cooperative ownership is really shares of stock in a cooperative corporation, which entitles the owner to a proprietary lease to the apartment unit.
During the course of estate settlement, a fiduciary such as a trustee or executor or administrator will need to contend with issues surrounding the decedent’s ownership of these interests. It may be that a property is occupied by a third party or family member who needs to be evicted. Thus, estate litigation in the Surrogate’s Court or other Court may need to be commenced. Another problem may involve discrepancies in the title of ownership and claims by third parties against the property interests. Various liens in the form of judgments or unpaid taxes or unpaid mortgages may complicate the estate administration.
It is very common that the estate fiduciary will decide to sell the property interests and distribute the net proceeds to estate beneficiaries. The ability of the fiduciary to sell property may be limited or constrained based upon the existence of a Last Will or the authority provided to a fiduciary by the Surrogate’s Court in letters testamentary or letters of administration.