My uncle passed away on 5/14/11 and I am executator. I listed his home for sale and have rec'd a reasonable offer. Can I proceed with this sale even if I haven't received the appointment papers from the court?
Sorry to learn of your recent loss.
The short answer to your question is no; presuming your uncle's real estate is part of his probate estate (typically if he was the sole owner on the deed) you will not be able to close the sale.
This problem would eventually be discovered by the title company as they prepare for closing and issuing of title insurance; and, of course, because your uncle is not able to sign a deed to the buyer, the buyer will not be able to receive marketable title.
As you suspected in your question, the remedy to this problem is to have your uncle's will probated and have the Court appoint you as the Executor. Technically, you should have done this prior to entering both the real estate listing agreement and any purchase agreement with potential buyer. These issues can be remedied pretty easily by re-executing the agreements after you have been appointed, or by an addendum to the original agreements, with proof of your appointment as the Executor.
I would recommend that you promptly contact an experienced probate lawyer to review the whole situation and help you fix it quickly, so hopefully you will not lose the potential buyer.
Anthony M. Rifici