How to Transfer Property Ownership Through a Will to Co-Owners

By Marie Murdock

As personal representative or executor under a will, there may be many situations in which you find it necessary to split the property of a decedent into several shares. For example, a parent may have died leaving several parcels of real estate without designating which parcel of land goes to which child or a child predeceases the parent so that their children become beneficiaries, splitting their one share into many. Either way, you find yourself in this quandary, unsure how to divide the non-liquid assets under the will. Determined to fulfill your fiduciary duties, you struggle with several options before making a decision you feel is best for everyone involved.

Step 1

Probate the will. This may seem simplistic, but generally, property vests in the devisees or beneficiaries under the will at the time of the decedent’s death after payment of any debts owed by the estate. Once all other requirements for probate have been met and it is time to distribute the assets, an attorney may advise you to execute a personal representative’s deed to all beneficiaries in the percentages as set out in the will. This will perfect the real property records so that the public will be put on notice of the transfer of the property. Once the estate has finalized and you are discharged by the court, property will belong to the devisees or beneficiaries under the will. After this time, if any of the parties desire to liquidate the property, they can either sell to the remaining property owners or file a petition with the courts for a court-ordered division of the property.

Step 2

Exercise your power of sale under the will. Many wills grant the personal representative the authority or power to sell property and split the proceeds. If the devisees or beneficiaries under the will bicker and cannot decide who gets the vacation condo on the ocean as opposed to who gets the farm land in Iowa and have reached an irresolvable impasse, contact a realtor and offer the property for sale at fair market value. This action may require, however, that you have consent from all the devisees to exercise your complete duties under the will.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

Step 3

Hire a surveyor and split the land if the property is one large contiguous tract. The surveyor will charge fees for this service, of course, but if the estate were to sell various parcels to third-party purchasers, it may have to pay surveying fees anyway. Hire a property appraiser to get a fair and accurate value for each parcel to be split so that the various parties do not feel they received a parcel of land lower in value than another parcel. Have all the devisees and/or beneficiaries under the will sign each of the deeds, especially if you are the personal representative and a devisee as well. A title company might be wary of insuring a parcel of land that a personal representative deeded to himself. All devisees and/or beneficiaries should agree to accept the deed for their parcel, however, as most state laws require a willing recipient in a property conveyance.

Step 4

Petition the court for sale of the property. This may be your only option if the beneficiaries refuse to agree on how to divide the property and tensions escalate. Have a willing purchaser and a real estate contract in place before petitioning the court. The court may hold a hearing allowing all parties concerned to object to the sale, but in the end, it may grant your petition and allow the sale to take place so that you can distribute the proceeds as set out under the will.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
How to Get Out of Inherited Joint Property Held With a Non-Spouse

References

Resources

Related articles

Can the Executor of an Estate Have Work Done to a House Without the Others' Consent?

An executor is the person named in a will and appointed by the probate court to manage and administer a decedent’s estate. An executor’s primary duty is to see that a decedent’s wishes are fulfilled and her beneficiaries receive all the property to which they are entitled under her will. An executor may be called upon to explain whether his authority includes incurring expenditures for property repair or improvement and if his actions are in the best interest of the estate.

Can You Sell a House Before You Finalize a Divorce?

The marital home is often one of the most valuable assets to divide in divorce. When a couple no longer lives under the same roof, selling the house may appear to be a practical next step. However, once a divorce petition is filed, state laws place certain restrictions on your ability to legally transfer the title of real estate without the consent of your spouse or the court.

How to Claim Inherited Properties

A relative passes away and leaves his property to you, but you are not sure what to do next. Claiming inherited property should be an easy process, in which the court or the estate representative makes sure that you get a chance to claim your inherited property. However, in cases in which the deceased person left you as his heir but you didn't receive a notice that the estate is in probate, you may need to take the first step and file a demand.

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

Related articles

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 ...

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

When someone who owns the entire interest in a parcel of land or real property dies without a will, the state’s laws of ...

Problems With Selling the Property of an Heir

Traditionally, an heir is defined as a person who receives property from an estate due to intestacy. When a person dies ...

How to Write a Deed With Power of Attorney

A real estate deed is a document representing legal ownership of a parcel of real estate. To transfer ownership of real ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED