Explaining How and When to Sell Property


How do I tell my executor to sell my property and then divide the proceeds?


Using the WillMaker will, you can leave your property to whomever you choose, but you cannot use your will to leave specific instructions for your executor about how and when to sell or your property.

Instead, use the Letter to Survivor to leave these instructions. Here's an example:

Nancy wants to leave her house to her grown children. But because they already have their own houses, she knows they will not want to live in the house -- rather they will sell it after she dies and split the proceeds. Using WillMaker, she leaves her house (and everything else) to be divided in equal shares among her three kids. Then she makes a Letter to Survivors, explaining that she wants her executor to sell the house and divide the proceeds among her kids. In the letter she can leave other details or suggestions. For example, she might suggest that if the market is bad, they could wait to sell the house until they could get a good price for the house.

This will work for any instructions for your executor, but be very careful not to contradict any provisions of your will. For example, don't use your will to give your car to your sister, but then write in the letter that you want her to give the car to your nephew.

Also, this plan -- of describing the gifts in the will, but then leaving explanations and instructions in a letter -- works best when there are no conflicts or rifts among the beneficiaries. If you anticipate that any of your friends or loved ones will have problems with the way you're leaving your property, see a lawyer for help drafting a will that can address these concerns.

Learn more about Writing a Letter to Your Survivors.