How should co-executors of a deceased estate act?

14 December 2021 121
“My mother and I have been appointed as co-executors of my late father’s estate. My mother wants to sell our family home, but I don’t want to. She has however gone ahead and signed a sale agreement without my consent. Can she do this and sell the house without my approval?”

Where immovable property has been acquired by a person during their lifetime and such person passes away, the property forms part of that person’s estate and must be administered according to his will. The deceased can nominate one or more persons in his will to administer his estate accordingly upon his death. Such a person is termed an “executor” and where there are two or more executors, they are referred to as co-executors. 

Co-executors must always act jointly as they are charged with the duty to properly administer the estate from start to finish. An executor therefore, may not enter into an agreement with a third party without the other co-executor. 

Our courts have accordingly held that where several executors are appointed each is responsible for the due administration of the estate. This means that co-executors must act jointly and are jointly responsible to carry out the wishes of the deceased, until the Master releases them from such duty. The relationship of co-executors is also different to that of a partnership. With a partnership a partner can act and sign a sale agreement on behalf of the others. In the case of co-executors, they must always act jointly as they are both equally responsible for the administration of the estate.

In your case it therefore means, that your mother cannot sell the family home without your consent and any agreement entered into will not be valid as she does not have the authority to bind the estate without your consent as co-executor.
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