What happens to homeowner’s name on deed after death?

DEAR BOB: My mother-in-law recently passed away. My husbandand his sister recently went to a lawyer and were notified that she is stillconsidered a co-owner of the house despite her passing. How can this be? Herwill says the two children (my husband and his sister) are to split everything50-50 –Joanne K.

DEAR JOANNE: When a real estate owner dies, the title to therealty he/she owned before death remains in his/her name. To transfer title,action must be taken. Change of title is not automatic.

Purchase Bob Bruss reports online.

If your mother-in-law held title to her house and other majorassets in her revocable living trust, it would be a simple matter for title tobe transferred by the successor trustee (such as your husband or his sister) towhomever is designated in the living trust to receive each asset.

You said your late mother-in-law left a written will givingher properties to her two children, your husband and his sister. To transfertitle, the will’s executor must petition the local probate court to distributethe estate assets according to the terms of the will.

The probate court will make certain the deceased’s creditorsare first paid from the estate assets. In most situations, this can take sixmonths to several years, depending on complications of the estate.

Your husband and his sister should consult a local probate attorneyin the county where your late mother-in-law resided to pay her creditors andtransfer title to her house according to the terms of her will. Those costs anddelays could have been avoided if she had a revocable living trust.


DEAR BOB: We are active-duty military who made a mistake intaking out a second mortgage on our house at 15.5 percent interest. We havepaid the payments for 15 years. The house has been on the market for sale thelast six months. We have never defaulted on either our first or secondmortgages. Should we combine these two mortgages? Or should we continue tryingto sell this house, which is located in North Carolina? We really want to getrid of this house and have not purchased another house at our new location–Santana C.

DEAR SANTANA: Unless you have plans to return to thevicinity of that house, get it sold. My understanding is the market for housesin most North Carolina cities is quite good, especially near military bases,which are expanding.

Perhaps you have the house listed with a “badagent” who isn’t using “due diligence” to get it sold quickly.Or maybe your asking price is too high. That is the most frequent reason ahouse doesn’t sell within a reasonable time.

Hopefully, you have the house rented to produce rentalincome. Ask your tenants if they would like to buy their home. They are yourmost logical buyers.


DEAR BOB: I lived with a man for 28 years in a common-lawmarriage, which is not recognized in the state where we lived. Seventeen yearsago we bought a house together. Our relationship ended on Dec. 17, 2004. Henever came back to reside. I continued the house’s upkeep. Now he wants morethan half of the house’s current value. I said “no way.” It lookslike we will have to go to court to settle. Are there any avenues I can take,as I don’t want to give up the house or pay his outrageous price? I am willingto offer him half of the appraised value. But I understand the judge can orderthe house to be auctioned. I don’t want this to happen. What can I do? –SharonS.

DEAR SHARON: Please consult a local real estate attorney. Ifboth names are on the title, either co-owner can file a partition lawsuit toforce the sale of the house. However, the partition sales proceeds will bedivided 50-50. Maybe when your ex-boyfriend realizes this, he will let you buyout his half of the house in return for a quitclaim deed. If you have goodincome and good credit you can probably refinance the mortgage to obtain thecash to buy him out.

The new Robert Bruss special report, “Five Easy Ways toBuy Your Home and Investment Property for Nothing Down,” is now availablefor $5 from Robert Bruss, 251 Park Road, Burlingame, CA 94010 or by credit cardat 1-800-736-1736 or instant Internet delivery at www.BobBruss.com. Questions for this columnare welcome at either address.

(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his
Real Estate Center

Copyright 2006 Inman News

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