Recently this question of transfer of real estate arose –
“My wife passed away about 6 years ago. Our home was titled in both names. She had a will which was processed through probate, but her name still appears on annual tax statements and apparently on title and deed.”
This is an issue that is sometimes overlooked by attorneys who probate estates but do not fully administer the assets of the estate, including real property. This was my answer to this specific question –
“There is a difference between equitable title and legal title. Assuming a will gives a person property and that the will was probated correctly, then equitable title passes to the individual. In order for legal title to pass, a deed should be drawn up from the acting executor to the beneficiary under the will. Contact the attorney who performed probate or an attorney familiar with drafting such deeds (likely a probate or real estate attorney) and have them draft the proper deed for you. The cost should be very reasonable.”
And this is only a partial answer based on a specific question. The situation changes dramatically if the person passing away does not have a will. And if the person does have a will, the first step is to probate the will. No person has authority to sign a deed to transfer a decedent’s property without authority without the estate being probated in the courts.
Regardless of what probate actions take place in the courts, a document transferring property must be on file with the county clerk of the county where the real property is. This is especially true if the property is not in the same county where the decedent resided.
While these matters are not the most complex issues you may run into after a loved one passes away, there are pitfalls to look out for. For a reasonable cost, you should hire an attorney to make certain that this and all other legal matters are attended to properly.