Home Ownership During Family Changes – Part 4

picture of Last Will and Testament envelope

For most people, the American dream includes owning your own home. However, family changes can affect home ownership, and should be considered by present or prospective home owners. As part of this multi-part series, we will explore how changes in life, such as marriage, divorce, aging and death, can affect home ownership.


Many people plan for how their home with be handled after their death through the execution of a will or by adding a loved one to the home’s deed prior to their death.  However, once a home owner has passed, the home ownership needs to be resolved.  If the deed was held joint with right of survivorship with another person, then the home will pass instantly to that person upon death.  If the home passes under a properly executed will and there are multiple heirs, then the estate’s Executor will need to determine the value of the home and how the assets of the estate, including the home, will divided among the heirs.   The home may need to be sold, which can involve appraisals and real estate agents.  Alternatively, the heirs may wish the keep the home in the family, in which case one heir may need to purchase the shares of the other heirs.  An appraisal may still be needed to ensure that the properly value is properly assessed and each heir gets a fair share.

Administering an estate can be more complicated if the home owner did not execute a will.  In that case, an heir will need to petition the court and open an intestate estate, identify the heirs, assess the value of the estate assets.  Once the value of the estate assets have been determined and the heirs identified, the administrator must divide the estate assets between the heirs.  Again, the home may need to be appraised and possible sold in order to divide and distribute the estate.

While the estate is being managed, their may be mortgage payments due, utility, insurance and tax payments to be made.  The estate administrator is responsible for paying these expenses while the estate is in probate.

If you or a loved one needs to make estate plans to address home ownership after death, or if you have lost a loved one and need to handle the estate, including a home, please call 678-535-3232 to schedule an appointment with an estate planning and probate attorney.

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