If you have a close loved one who is nearing the end of their life, you may be wondering what happens to their estate when they pass away. The answer to that question will depend on what is in that person’s will (assuming they have one). When it comes to a house, there are a few ways things could go.
It Passes to Beneficiaries
If a single beneficiary was named in the will as the inheritor of the house, then the house will pass to that person once the probate process has been completed. If multiple beneficiaries were named, things may be a bit more complicated. Often, the simplest thing to do is to sell the house and divide the profits amongst the named beneficiaries. If that isn’t what the will directs, however, it may be up to everyone named to come to a mutual agreement on what to do with the property.
It Gets Sold
The estate becomes responsible for settling any outstanding debts upon a person’s death. Depending on the state of the estate and the debts, selling the house and using that money to resolve the debts may be the best move to make. It may also be the case that there are no beneficiaries to take over ownership of the house. In that case, the estate executor will be responsible for selling the house under the supervision of the probate court.
It May Avoid Probate Altogether
Probate is not always an inevitability. Depending on state laws, the house may automatically pass to someone else. This is most common when there is another person’s name on the deed to the house or when community property laws are in place. A house going into probate may also be avoided if it has been placed in a living trust. When this happens, ownership of the house technically doesn’t change upon the person’s death. That effectively prevents the house from going into probate.
Understanding the things that could happen to a house after its owner passes away can make preparing for that outcome much easier. Homes tend to be cherished places where so many memories are made. Having the time to come to an understanding of what is likely to happen can make dealing with the heightened emotions you’ll feel during the aftermath of a loved one’s passing a bit less burdensome.
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