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Do You Need a Lawyer to Sell Your Parents’ Home For Them?



While selling your parents’ home can feel overwhelming at first, understanding key elements of the process – like which industry professionals you’ll need by your side can make the experience much smoother. Here are a few tips to help you get started. 

Beyond the ins and outs of a traditional home sale, selling your parents’ home will also involve various legal considerations. In Ontario, you can’t make licit or binding decisions on behalf of a parent without formal documentation. So, based on your family’s personal circumstances, you’ll need to determine which designations are required before you’re ready to sell. 

In need of insights regarding a specific type of home sale? Explore some of these resources from our blog. 

Power of Attorney vs Probate

When you make binding decisions for a parent (such as selling their home) you must have legal permission to do so. However, obtaining the proper permissions required will vary based on your circumstances. Primarily, how you proceed is determined by whether or not your parent(s) have passed away.

There are two main types of authorizations used in order to legally act on behalf of another person – Power of Attorney (POA) and Probate. So what’s the difference?

Power of Attorney

  • Grants you permission to act on a parent’s behalf during their home sale. 
  • Doesn’t allow you to make decisions regarding the estate after they’ve passed away. 
  • Can usually be granted quickly and without court approval. 
  • Can provide limited authority for one or more processes. 

In general terms, the Power of Attorney allows someone to act on another person’s affairs while they are still alive. In many cases, Power of Attorney is granted when someone is unable to take on a specific process on their own due to poor health or other challenges. 

When selling real estate on behalf of a parent, you will be required to obtain Power of Attorney in order to make legal decisions for them – such as accepting an offer on the home. 


  • Refers to the formal process of naming an Executor (or Trustee) of a parent’s estate after they’ve passed away. 
  • In Ontario, the distribution of estate assets (such as selling a home) can only be handled by the Executor. 
  • Probate is usually required even if someone is also appointed as Executor in a Will. 
  • Must be completed before you can sell your parent(s)’ property. 
  • Can take weeks to be finalized. 

Unlike the Power of Attorney, the Probate process mainly applies in instances where the homeowner has passed away. Further, an Executor is typically responsible for the entirety of the estate, not just one asset. Because of this significance, the Probate process can often be longer and more intricate than granting POA.

Your Professional Partners

Given the legal implications and importance of granting Power of Attorney or Probate, you will need to work with a lawyer – ideally one who specializes in real estate. 

In addition to a lawyer, there will be other specialized professionals involved in the process of selling your parents’ home. Who you work with will depend on your personal circumstances, however, there are certain key players that are involved in most transactions. 

The Experts You May Work With

  • A Real Estate Agent
  • Your Parent’s Bank or Lender
  • Home Inspector 
  • Professional Decluttering Support

Looking for more unique real estate blog posts? Explore these related readings from our site. 

On top of being an intricate and labour-intensive process, selling a home on behalf of a parent can also be challenging from an emotional perspective. With that in mind, you’ll want to work with a real estate team that can take care of the heavy lifting so you can focus on what matters most. 

At Smith Proulx Real Estate, we excel at providing a compassionate, full-service selling experience. As a family team, we understand the nuanced and often sensitive nature of selling a home on behalf of a parent. Not only can we help to minimize the stress in an otherwise stressful time, but our locally-leading selling strategies ensure you and your family achieve the best possible result. 

Looking for a real estate team that can guide you through the complex buying and selling process? The Smith Proulx Team can help. Send us an email or call 416-769-6050 to get started. 

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