You may have heard it said that many estates are made up primarily of a family home. Whether that is the case for you or not, it pays to understand the way probate affects the home. When it comes to probate law, the greater the value of an estate item, the more interest the probate court shows in it during probate. Read on and learn more.
- During probate, the home must be taken care of. Often, it is the responsibility of the personal representative or executor to maintain the property. That usually means securing it, keeping certain utilities on, handling any repairs or maintenance, and more.
- Taking care of the family home may also mean keeping it safe in other ways. Property taxes, for instance, should be paid when due on the home. If the home is situated in a neighborhood that requires association dues, they must be paid. Condominium dues should also be paid. Finally, the homeowners' insurance policy should be kept up to date. Often, the policy will need to be temporarily retitled with the name "the estate of John Doe" until homeownership passes to someone else.
- What happens to the home depends largely on the will. Many times, the surviving spouse automatically inherits the home if their name is on the deed. Even if they are not mentioned on the deed, state laws often protect the rights of a current spouse to inherit a portion of it if there are living children. Usually, spouses cannot be excluded from some level of ownership of the home.
- If no living spouse exists, the home may go to the children of the deceased. Many times, the home is to be equally divided between the children when there is more than one. One child may buy the others out once a value for the home is established. However, some families decide to continue owning the home together for the time being at least. If the home is to be sold, the home can be readied for sale during probate. The home may need to be cleared of furnishings and thoroughly cleaned in preparation for placing it on the market. The probate court will need to know the intentions of those who are in line to inherit it. It can be sold, left in the names of the beneficiaries, or sold to one or more of the beneficiaries. With probate lasting up to six months during the pandemic for the simplest of estates, the disposition is usually decided upon at some point.
Speak to a probate lawyer to find out more.