How To Transfer Property After The Death Of A Parent Without A Will

How To Transfer Property After Death Of Parent Without Will - What To Do When Parent Dies Without Will - How Long Do You Have To File Probate After Death

Wondering how to transfer property after the death of a parent without a will? 

In this article, you’ll learn about: 

  • what to do when a parent dies without a will
  • how long you have to file probate
  • how to transfer the property after death
  • who gets the house
  • what the children are entitled to
  • can the house skip probate
  • how long you have to transfer the property
  • what happens to the mortgage

Keep scrolling to learn more.

Table of Contents

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What To Do When Parent Dies Without Will

When a parent dies without a will, their property is distributed according to intestate succession laws

This means the state has rules to determine who gets what. 

Here’s what to do when a parent dies without a will:

  • Secure the Property: Immediately after the death, make sure the deceased’s property, including their home and belongings, is safe and secure.
  • Order Death Certificates: Obtain multiple copies of the death certificate. You’ll need them for various tasks, such as closing bank accounts or transferring titles.
  • Identify Assets: Make a list of all the deceased’s assets, like bank accounts, real estate, investments, and personal property.
  • Determine Debts: List all the debts the deceased owed, including mortgages, loans, credit card bills, and utilities.
  • Open a Probate Case: Go to your local probate court and file a petition to open a probate case. This court process determines how to distribute the deceased’s assets.
  • Appoint an Administrator: If there’s no will, the court will appoint an administrator, often a close family member. This person manages the deceased’s estate, paying off debts and distributing assets.
  • Notify Creditors: The administrator should let known creditors know about the death. There’s usually a timeframe in which creditors can claim debts from the estate.
  • Pay Debts: Using the estate’s assets, the administrator should pay off the deceased’s debts.
  • Distribute Assets: After all debts are paid, distribute the remaining assets according to your state’s intestate succession laws. Typically, assets go to the surviving spouse and children, but specifics vary by state.
  • Close the Probate Case: Once all assets are distributed and tasks completed, ask the probate court to close the case.

Read More: Inheriting A House That Is Paid Off

How Long Do You Have To File Probate After Death?

30 days is the most common amount of time you have to file for probate after death.

But, depending on your local laws, it can be up to a year. 

Call your local probate court to find out the exact timeline. 

When someone dies, probate is the legal process to settle their estate. 

The timeline for filing probate can vary by jurisdiction.

  • Some states have a specific time frame, often within 30 days to a year after death.
  • Delays can lead to complications, like assets deteriorating in value.
  • If there’s a will, the executor should start the process promptly.
  • If no will exists, a close relative or interested party should initiate probate.
  • Missing the deadline can result in penalties or loss of rights.

Read More: I Inherited A House How Do I Put It In My Name?

How To Transfer Property After Death Of Parent Without Will

When a parent dies without leaving a will, they’re said to have died “intestate“. 

Intestacy laws in each jurisdiction determine how property gets distributed among heirs.

Here is how to transfer property after the death of a parent without a will:

  • Identify the Rightful Heirs: Typically, the deceased’s spouse and children are the primary heirs. If unmarried or without children, other relatives may inherit.
  • Open a Probate Case: Go to your local probate court and file a petition to open an intestate probate case.
  • Appoint an Administrator: The court usually appoints an administrator, often a close family member, to manage the estate.
  • Inventory Assets: The administrator lists all of the deceased’s properties and assets.
  • Pay Debts: Before distributing assets, the administrator uses estate funds to pay off any debts or outstanding bills.
  • Distribute Assets: After paying debts, the administrator divides the remaining assets among the heirs according to intestacy laws.
  • Transfer Property Titles: For assets like houses or cars, you’ll need to transfer titles to the new owners. This often involves filing documents with a local government agency.

Read More: How Much Does An Estate Have To Be Worth To Go To Probate?

If A Parent Dies Without A Will Who Gets The House?

Here is who gets the house when a parent dies without a will:

  • If the deceased is survived by a spouse and children: The surviving spouse often receives a portion of the estate, which may include all or part of the house. The children then receive the remainder. The exact division varies by jurisdiction.
  • If the deceased is survived only by a spouse: The surviving spouse usually inherits the entire estate, including the house.
  • If the deceased is survived only by children: The children typically inherit the entire estate, including the house, and it’s divided among them equally.
  • If the deceased has no surviving spouse or children: Other relatives, such as parents, siblings, or more distant relatives, may inherit based on the order established by intestacy laws in that jurisdiction.
  • No surviving relatives: If the court finds no eligible relatives, the property often escheats, or reverts to the state.

Read More: Am I Entitled To My Husband’s Property If He Dies And My Name Isn’t On The Deed?

What Happens To A House When The Owner Dies Without A Will?

When the owner of a house dies without a will, the house becomes part of the deceased’s estate. 

The intestacy laws of the jurisdiction decide who inherits the house. 

Often, if there’s a surviving spouse, they receive the house or a portion of it. 

If there are children but no spouse, the children usually share ownership of the house. 

In the absence of children or a spouse, other relatives might inherit the property. 

If no relatives can be identified or located, the state might ultimately take possession of the house. 

Throughout this process, a probate court oversees the distribution and ensures the correct transfer of the house title.

Read More: Is My Wife Entitled To Half My House If It’s In My Name?

What Is A Child Entitled To When A Parent Dies Without A Will?

When a parent dies without a will, a child’s entitlement is determined by intestacy laws.

  • If there’s a surviving spouse and children: The spouse and children typically share the estate.
  • If there are only children: They equally divide the entire estate.
  • Adopted children usually have the same rights as biological children.
  • Stepchildren might not automatically inherit unless adoption occurred.
  • The child’s age doesn’t usually affect their inheritance rights.
  • Local laws determine the exact distribution and should be referenced.

Read More: If My Name Is On The Deed But Not The Mortgage Can I Refinance?

FAQs About Transferring Property After Death Of Parent Without Will

Here are other questions that clients ask us about transferring a deed after death

Can Property Be Transferred Without Probate?

Yes, property can be transferred without probate via:

  • Joint Ownership: If the property is owned jointly, it often passes directly to the surviving owner.
  • Beneficiary Designations: Some assets, like life insurance or retirement accounts, transfer directly to named beneficiaries.
  • Living Trusts: Property placed in a living trust transfers to beneficiaries without probate.
  • Payable-on-Death and Transfer-on-Death Designations: Some bank accounts and securities allow owners to specify a beneficiary to receive the asset upon their death, bypassing probate.
  • Small Estates: Some jurisdictions allow small estates to transfer assets without a full probate process.

Read More: How Long Can A House Stay In A Deceased Person’s Name?

How Long Do You Have To Transfer Property After Death?

On average, you have a few months to a year to transfer property after death

The exact time depends on local probate laws. 

Starting the process early can help avoid complications. 

Some states have specific deadlines. 

If the deadline gets missed, there may be penalties or challenges. 

So, it’s essential to be aware of local timelines.

Read More: How To Transfer A Property Deed From A Deceased Relative

What Happens To A Mortgage When Someone Dies Without A Will?

When someone dies without a will and has a mortgage, the mortgage remains on the property

The home’s heirs inherit the property along with the existing mortgage. 

These heirs can choose to either continue making payments or sell the home. 

If payments aren’t consistently made, the bank has the right to foreclose on the property. 

The specific heirs who inherit the property are determined by local intestacy laws. 

It’s worth noting that some lenders may have a “due on sale” clause.

This requires the loan to be paid in full upon the borrower’s death. 

In certain situations, mortgage insurance might cover the outstanding mortgage amount. 

If the deceased had a joint mortgage, the surviving co-borrower typically becomes solely responsible for the remaining debt. 

Read More: Am I Entitled To My Husband’s Property If He Dies And My Name Isn’t On The Deed?

What Happens To A Joint Mortgage When Someone Dies?

When someone with a joint mortgage dies, here is what happens to the joint mortgage:

  • The surviving borrower usually assumes full responsibility for the loan.
  • The mortgage typically doesn’t need to be paid off immediately.
  • Most joint mortgages have a “right of survivorship.” This means the surviving borrower becomes the sole owner of the property.
  • Some mortgages may have a “due-on-sale” clause, triggering the loan to be paid when ownership changes. However, exemptions often exist for inherited properties.
  • If payments stop, the lender can start foreclosure.
  • Life insurance or mortgage protection policies might cover the mortgage in case of death.

Read More: Do All Heirs Have To Agree To Sell Property?

Get Help Transferring Your Parents' Property

If you want help from a probate firm, fill out the form below. 

At The Hive Law, we understand the importance of:

  • protecting your hard-earned assets 
  • ensuring your family’s future
  • not losing everything to creditors and lawsuits
  • properly (and legally) distributing assets 

We only accommodate a limited number of clients each month.

So don’t miss your opportunity to work with our probate lawyers.

Benefits of our probate services:

  • Tailored solutions to fit your unique needs and goals
  • Expert guidance in navigating complex tax and legal matters
  • Preservation of your wealth for future generations
  • Streamlined asset distribution according to your wishes

Avoid the pitfalls of inadequate estate planning strategies:

  • Creditors seizing your assets
  • Lawsuits jeopardizing your family’s financial security
  • Family disputes over inheritance
  • Costly and time-consuming probate processes

Talk soon.

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