The Mechanics of Inheriting Real Estate
How do you transfer house ownership after someone dies and leaves you the house in a will?
The will must be probated. Once all debts of the estate are paid and the court agrees to a final disposition of assets, the executor will then create a deed giving whoever it is title to the property. It may or may not be part of the executor's job to record the deed with the county - so make certain it gets done yourself if you are the inheritor. It may cost a little ($65 locally), but it prevents huge problems down the road.
Now if there's a loan or other liens in effect, the mere fact that your predecessor died does not render them in any way invalid. Most specifically, Trust Deeds have the power to foreclose if the payments are not made in a timely manner. Sometimes the estate has the money to pay them off; more often it does not and somebody better keep making those payments during probate, which lasts a legal minimum of 9 months, or the issue will be academic before probate is resolved. Nor can estates, in general, secure financing, so refinancing the loan can be difficult. Relatively few dead people earn significant amounts of money.
On the other hand, if your property is in a Trust, then there is no probate on that part of the estate. Title to the property passes basically immediately to the successor trustee, who must comply with whatever instructions are made in the trust with regard to the property, but is otherwise free to do with it as they will within the limitations of the law. Among other issues encountered in probate but not here, this permits refinancing in whatever name happens to have the income to keep making the payments.
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