Can an executor sell property to himself?
An executor, a trustee, and a holder of a power of attorney are all fiduciaries and owe the upmost duty to those they serve. In a Texas case out of the Houston Court of Appeals in 2016, a will had given a certain piece of land to several of the decedent’s children share and share alike. The will appointed one of the children as the executor of the estate.
The executor sold the property to himself instead of giving it to all the children. The other siblings were not happy and one of them asked the court to void the deed and to remove the executor for his actions. The court did remove the executor and voided the deed. The executor appealed.
The executor told the appeals court that the will had a provision that the executor could “sell, manage, and dispose” of the property in the estate. Relying on this provision in the will, the executor said that he had the power under the will to sell the property to himself.
An executor who sells property to himself is self-dealing
The Court of Appeals was not impressed with the executor’s argument. The court held that the Texas Estates Code did not allow the executor to sell the property to himself unless it was authorized by the will. §356.651, §356.652 and §356.655. They held that the use of the words “sell, manage, and dispose” were not a sufficient authorization for him to deed the property to himself. They upheld the trial court’s ruling that the deed was void and that the executor be removed.
To Learn more about fiduciaries and their duties and liabilities, see this article.