How to Transfer a Deed to a House if the Owner Dies Without a Will

By Marie Murdock

When someone who owns the entire interest in a parcel of land or real property dies without a will, the state’s laws of intestate succession generally determine ownership. When several heirs become joint owners in a piece of property under these laws, some may desire to sell their interest to others or all of the heirs may choose to convey the property to an unrelated purchaser.

Estate Administration

Step 1

File or instruct your attorney to file a petition for administration of the estate in probate court in the decedent’s county of residence. The petition should recite the names of all heirs to the estate, whether or not they are over the age of majority and of sound mind and request that the court grant letters of administration, giving authority to the petitioner to probate the intestate estate. Some states require that the administrator be a resident of the state where the estate is being administered.

Step 2

Petition the court for a sale of the property if a purchaser is available and the property must be sold to divide the proceeds among heirs or to pay debts of the estate. The court may grant your petition and order a sale of the property free of liens or claims, with the money being paid into the court for distribution to heirs and creditors.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

Step 3

Convey or deed the property by administrator’s deed pursuant to court order once authorized by the court to do so. If required by your state, file an administrator’s report of the sale with the court and pay any proceeds as directed by the order, either to the heirs, creditors or into the court. Once the report of sale has been reviewed and approved by the court, an order confirming the sale by the court may be entered.

Step 4

Execute an administrator’s deed to all heirs in equal shares or as ordered by the court, once the administration is complete if there has been no sale of the property to a third-party, uninterested purchaser. Record the deed in the land records for the county where the property is located.

Bypassing Probate

Step 1

Determine all heirs of the deceased under the state’s intestate succession laws. Laws may differ from state to state, but generally, the primary heir will be the spouse who inherits the entire estate or a share with children, sometimes depending on whether or not there are children from a previous marriage. If there is no spouse, children of the deceased will ordinarily acquire the property jointly. If there are no children, parents inherit, then siblings.

Step 2

Prepare or have an attorney prepare heirship affidavits to be signed by two disinterested parties who are familiar with the family and know the heirs and lineage. Heirship affidavits confirm the names of all the heirs of the deceased. Instruct the people signing the affidavits to sign in the presence of a notary public.

Step 3

Prepare or have your attorney prepare a deed from all of the heirs to the purchaser that complies with state law, provided they are all adults and mentally competent. The deed should state that all are heirs at law of the deceased and it must provide a proper legal description of the property. It should also include a proper notary acknowledgement for the state where the land is located.

Step 4

Instruct all heirs to sign the deed in the presence of a notary public. Record the heirship affidavits and record or instruct the purchaser to record the signed and notarized deed in the land records for the county where the property is located.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
The Transfer of Property Deed Upon a Spouse's Death



Related articles

When Someone Dies, How Is the Estate Settled?

State law governs probate process and procedure, whether the decedent died with or without a will. Probate takes place in the county, parish or other locale where the deceased resided or where he owned property. If you have been named as executor or administrator, often referred to as a personal representative, you will pay debts and expenses of the estate from available funds and distribute the remaining assets according to the terms of a will or state law. Depending on the estate, this process can be quite lengthy or relatively brief and completed within a few months.

What Can I Do if a Will Is Not Probated From My Mother's Estate in Texas?

A will provides the drafter with the most control over the distribution of her assets at death. However, in order for the will maker's wishes to be carried out, the will must be probated within the time frame specified by Texas law. If not, estate property will pass according to a set of state rules that prioritize heirs based on their legal relationship to the deceased. While these rules are fairly rigid, heirs may still have some say in how the inheritance is distributed, provided they can all agree.

What Happens After You Are Appointed a Personal Representative in Probate?

It is both an honor and a responsibility to be named personal representative, or executor, in a loved one’s will. This designation means that the testator, or maker of the will, trusted you to manage her affairs after death. Personal representatives must interpret and carry out the deceased's wishes according to the will’s terms and comply with the laws of the state where the will is probated.

LegalZoom. Legal help is here. Start Here. Wills. Trusts. Attorney help.

Related articles

How to Get Heir Property in Your Name if There Is No Will

So, your parent or relative has died without a last will and testament, leaving you as sole heir or as joint heir with ...

How to Get Out of Inherited Joint Property Held With a Non-Spouse

When a parent or relative dies, he may leave several heirs who jointly inherit his entire estate, including any real ...

How to Petition the Court for Determination of Heirship

Probate, a court-supervised proceeding, normally is required when a person dies. Probate facilitates the transfer of ...

How to Transfer a Deed Left From a Will

When probate of the estate is almost complete and real estate remains in the estate, as personal representative, or ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED