Property Titles & Probate

Part of buying a home is ensuring that the property has a clean title. Checking for a clean title is your way of knowing that no one else can claim the property. Creditors may have a lien on the house, for example. 

But what happens when you inherit real property? When a person establishes a will, it goes to probate after they pass away. Including a house or a piece of land in a will is not uncommon. All wills pass through probate. During probate, the court distributes the property according to the deceased’s intent, as stated in the will. 

It is also important to note that the assets still pass through probate without a will or trust. But everything gets disseminated per the law. 

Ultimately, people can discover that they are now real property owners and may not have a clean title. 

Clearing A Title

It is strongly recommended that you consult an attorney. Though there are different ways to clear a title (depending on your specific circumstances), you could ultimately file through probate. 

You or your attorney must learn who else is on the title to the property—or who has a lien on it. If there is a lien on the property, your options range from paying the debt to disputing the lien in court. 

Probate will effectively remove the deceased’s person’s name when there is a sole owner on the title. The process is different when the deceased owned the property jointly. The deed to the property lays out how much each person owns of it. If the property goes to probate, the court still removes the deceased person’s name from the deed. 

And remember, even if there is a will, the property will still pass through probate. The court takes control of the assets, looks for a will, validates the will, and the executor distributes the property to the beneficiary—which is addressed in the will. 

Survivorship Rights

There is a common scenario in which a person’s spouse passes away. The surviving spouse continues to own the property. With joint ownership rights of survivorship, the property shares of one owner transfer to the other when they pass away. 

If you are in this position, you may be able to avoid probate. But it is an excellent idea to discuss this with an attorney. If you are the surviving spouse, you and your lawyer can officially transfer the interest of the property into your name. And the deceased person will be removed too.

Luis E. Barreto and Associates 

Everyone should have an estate plan. If you need to create one, amend an existing plan, or require probate litigation services, contact Luis E. Barretto and Associates. The initial consultation is free. You can also reach us at (305) 358-1771.

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