I inherited a family home or land with a sibling or other family member. What do I do now?

Inheriting a house can be a complex and emotional experience. When the inheritance involves sharing the property with a sibling or other family member, the situation can be delicate due to family dynamics and each party’s financial position. This guide will walk through the most common issues affecting inherited real estate in Oklahoma.

How Property Is Inherited in Oklahoma

When a person passes away, their assets are typically passed on to their surviving heirs or beneficiaries according to their last will and testament (“will”) (or state laws if there is no will). These assets can include real estate, bank accounts, and more. Some assets can pass automatically at the owner’s death, while other assets will be subject to probate.

In the context of inheriting a house with a sibling, you and your sibling(s) are likely to be named as co-beneficiaries in a will (or will be determined to be legal heirs in a probate case), which means you share ownership of the property. This shared ownership can lead to various legal and financial complexities that need to be addressed.

Determine How the Property Was Owned

One of the first steps to determining the impact of an inherited property is to figure out what type of deed was used and whether the deceased owner held title in “tenancy in common”, “joint tenancy with right of survivorship,” or another structure. These words should be specifically spelled out in the deed in which the deceased owner originally obtained title ownership, also known as the “vesting deed.”

If I was named in the will, do I own the property immediately?

Most property does not transfer to the new owner immediately. Unless the deceased owner used a transfer on death deed, a trust, or other style of ownership that invokes and immediate transfer, the property will have to go through probate before the judge can determine who the new owner(s) should be. If no one completes a probate, the home will remain stuck in the name of the deceased owner. This could lead to the need for a probate or a quiet title lawsuit years later.

Properties owned in joint tenancy with right of survivorship will transfer ownership immediately to the surviving joint tenant. The survivor must correct the public record by recording an affidavit of surviving joint tenant to remove the deceased joint tenant’s name.

What happens to mortgages or liens on the property?

If the property still has an outstanding mortgage or any liens which affect the property at the time of the deceased owner’s passing, those will remain tied to the property after the owner’s passing. While some liens may be released, depending on what type of liens they are, most debts and liabilities of the property remain in place until paid.

Do we have to continue to be co-owners?

No. Once the new property owners are confirmed and the inherited property has officially moved to the new owners’ names, the parties can decide to sell the property outright, sell their interest to another co-owner, and more. If one co-owner wants to sell while the others do not, any co-owner can force a sale of the property through a process known as partition.

If you do decide to remain as co-owners, be sure to decide on maintenance, taxes, upkeep, and insurance matters before there’s an emergency; this may require a written co-ownership agreement.

Get Help from Oklahoma Property Lawyers

Contact Avenue Legal Group for questions or help handling probates, quiet titles, partitions, liens, or any other inherited property matters.



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