Can a court-appointed guardian sell real property?

QUESTION: I’ve been asked by someone who is acting as her mother’s guardian to list and seller the property where her mother used to live before she was moved into a skilled care facility.  The daughter has provided me a copy of a court paper appointing her as her mother’s general guardian.  It says among other things that the “[g]eneral guardian is fully authorized and entitled under the laws of North Carolina to receive, manage and administer the property, estate and business of the ward and to have the custody, care and control of the ward.”

My first question is, may I take the listing based on the court paper I’ve been given?  If the answer is yes, two other questions I have are, what’s the right way for a guardian to sign the listing agreement and does a guardian have to provide either of the disclosure statements?

ANSWER: A court-appointed general guardian may sell their ward’s real property, but according to Responsibilities of Guardians in North Carolina, published by the NC Administrative Office of the Courts, “[t]he ward’s real property may not be sold unless the general guardian or the guardian of the estate files a special proceeding seeking authority and approval of the court in advance” (emphasis added) (see pg. 8).  Therefore, in our view, you would be advised not to take the listing unless the daughter gets court approval to sell her mother’s property (if she hasn’t already).  Also, note that any contract to sell the property is subject to court approval before the sale can close.  We believe this is a material fact that should be disclosed to prospective buyers as it is a fact affecting the ability of your principal to complete the transaction.

If she gets court approval to sell the property, the appropriate way for the daughter to sign legal documents, including a listing agreement, would be to sign her mother’s name followed by “by [daughter’s name], General Guardian.”  Alternatively, the daughter could sign her name, followed by “General Guardian for [mother’s name].”

The answer to your last question is no.  Transfers by a fiduciary in the course of administering a guardianship are exempt from the requirements of the Residential Property Disclosure Act according to Section 47E-2(a)(3) of the Act.  Thus, the guardian would not need to provide the Residential Property and Owners Association Disclosure Statement or the Mandatory Mineral, Oil and Gas Rights Disclosure Statement.

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