When you inherit most personal property, the process is straightforward: A will or a court's decision will sort out the deceased’s estate and give you ownership of your inheritance. Things get a little more convoluted if you inherit real estate, because the deed that records ownership of the property must be modified to reflect that you’re the new owner. In most cases, the executor of the will or a representative from the probate court will issue a new deed that names you as the property’s new owner.
Items you will need
- Death certificates of all owners
- Probated will of last owner, if available
Consult the original deed on the property to confirm that the property wasn’t jointly owned at the time of the deceased’s death. If the property is jointly owned, the surviving owner owns the property in full, so you’ll need to confirm you’re able to inherit it. If the property wasn’t owned jointly, skip to Step 3.
Determine the order of the joint owners’ deaths by examining their death certificates. If the person who you stand to inherit the property from died first, the property reverts to the other owner, so you’ll need to prove the order of succession to establish your claim as heir to the property.
Draft a new deed to replace the one on file. If you were willed the property, you’ll need a executor’s deed. If the owner died without a will and the court granted you ownership of the property as it sorted out the estate, you’ll need to present an administrator’s deed. Both types of deed must contain the legal description of the property and your name as the new owner. If you are receiving the property by executor’s deed, you’ll need to include information showing that the executor is authorized to deed you the property, confirmation that the will has gone through probate, and the name of the previous owner. If the court presents you with an administrative deed, the deed must be drawn up according to state law for those who die without a will.
Sign the new deed in the presence of a notary public. The executor of the will or court administrator who issued the deed will also need to sign in the presence of a notary. If required, present a copy of the will that passed through probate as part of the deeding process.
- Sometimes owners of a property take care of inheritance issues before they die. If the property owner drew up a transfer-on-death deed before she died, deeding the property to you, you’re set: This deed serves as your deed to the property once death is established with a death certificate.
- Real Estate Lawyers: Understanding the Executor's Deed
- North Carolina Estate Planning Blog: I Inherited Real Estate - Where's My Deed?
- Community Legal Aid: Transfer on Death Deeds
- Lone Star Land Law: Affidavits of Heirship in Texas Intestacy Cases
- National Timber Tax Website: Property Transfers After Death
- Nolo: How Joint Owners Can Transfer Survivorship Property After Death
- Colorado State Extension: How Property Passes at Death
- Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images
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