Selling Parents' Home After Their Death
Ask the Real Estate Lawyer: Real Estate Law Q&A
REM #LAW 651
By Ilyce R. Glink and Samuel J. Tamkin
Summary: A reader is planning to sell their
parents' home many years after their death. There was no will and the estate
has never been through probate. Sam and Ilyce discuss the children's options.
Q: We have a house that my parents owned.
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They both died many years ago, my father before my mother. My sister has been
living in the house ever since they died.
Now we want to do something with the house, but the house is still in our parents’
names. There has never been probate for either of our parents. Our parents had
no will. All of the parties that have an interest in the home are in agreement
as to what to do with it.
What is the easiest way for me to get the house into my name?
A: Part of the answer depends on where you live, information that you didn’t
provide in your email.
That said, in some states you may have to get approval by the court to transfer
title of the home to you. In other states, you may be able to convey title to
you by having the necessary documentation to prove that all of the possible
parties that may have an interest in the home have approved of the transfer
of title to you.
In some states, an attorney or a title insurance company can assist in the
paper work to transfer title to you. In some cases, you can purchase title insurance
to insure that upon the transfer from your parents name to you, the transfer
meets the title companies’ requirements and you are insured against a
loss in case some unknown relative stakes a claim in the home.
In these states, all of the family members that could have an interest in the
home would sign a deed transferring title to you.
While the home may have been the only asset that your parents had, someone
should have made sure that all of your parent’s debts and tax liabilities
were paid. If someone determined that no money was owed to the IRS for income
taxes or estate taxes, and that nothing was owed to your state’s department
of revenue and to other creditors, then it should not be difficult to transfer
title to the home from your parents to you.
If you must go to court, try to find an attorney who specializes in the area
of probate law. The attorney will most likely have to open up a file for your
mother, the last of your parents to die. If your parents did not hold title
to the home as joint tenant with rights of survivorship, the attorney will have
to open up a file for each of your parents and probate each of their estates.
Once the file has been probated, with the consent of all family members, the
attorney would have to obtain a court order allowing the home to be transferred
to your name.
If you are in a state that does not generally use real estate attorneys for
residential closing, I would first stop by a local title insurance company and
seek some assistance. If you are in a state that generally uses real estate
attorneys in real estate transactions, I would hire one that has had experience
in you sort of a case.
Finally, if you find out that you are in a state in which you must open probate
to change the title, you will need to find an attorney that handles probate
Samuel J. Tamkin is a Chicago-based real estate attorney. Ilyce
R. Glink’s latest book is 50 Simple Steps You Can Take To Sell Your
Home Faster and For More Money In Any Market. If you have questions for
them, write: Real Estate Matters Syndicate, PO Box 366, Glencoe, IL 60022
or contact them through Ilyce’s website www.thinkglink.com