Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Monday, August 17, 2020

Alabama Supreme Court: Administrator Allowed To Sell Estate Real Property

ParcelIn Alabama, if a decedent dies intestate, an administrator of the estate is allowed to sell the real property of the estate in order to pay debts of the state or costs and expenses of administration. 

In Brown v. Berry-Pratt, the issue was whether the circuit court's judgment allowing the estate administrator to sell some of the decedent's property was in error. The Alabama Supreme Court looked at what the term "debts" applies to in the applicable statutes.

Pauline Brown died intestate in 2005. Pauline had four children—Leah, Allen, Cheryl, and Debra. Pauline's estate included 18 parcels of real estate divided between Alabama and Mississippi. 

Leah was appointed as administrator in 2015, following years of litigation concerning the mismanagement by the initial personal representative of the estate. In 2018 Leah was removed and Berry-Pratt was appointed to replace Leah. 

Shortly after Berry-Pratt was appointed, she filed an inventory of the 18 parcels and requested that the circuit court allow her to list those properties for sale "for payment of the costs of administration of the estate and…equitable distribution to the heirs."

The circuit court granted the motion the same day. Berry-Pratt later received an offer on two parcels and notified the court. Leah, Allen, and Cheryl openly objected to the selling price of the two parcels. However, the circuit court granted the Berry-Pratt's motion to sell the property. 

Leah, Allen, and Cheryl appealed the judgment. The Alabama Supreme Court held that Berry-Pratt was entitled to sell the two parcels if the funds were needed for the administration of the estate pursuant section 43-2-830 and 43-2-371, and also to Self v. Roper, 689 So. 2d 139 (Ala. Civ. App. 1996). 

See, Alabama Supreme Court: Administrator Allowed To Sell Estate Real Property, Probate Stars, July 23, 2020. 


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