One of the frequent questions that we receive here at Clymer, Musser & Sarno concerns the transfer of Real Estate immediately subsequent to the death of a parent.

Often individuals assume that because they lived with their parents or provided services to them prior to their death that the real estate will or should vest in their name, almost by default. The reality of the situation, however, is more complicated than the assumption.

When a parent dies, the manner in which their belongings pass to their children or heirs can be fairly divided into three categories, which will be addressed below.

1. Through Operation of Law

Real Estate passes through the operation of law, when an individual holds recorded legal title to the property in conjunction with the decedent and that co-ownership contains a right of survivorship. In this instance, the property does automatically and immediately transfer to the survivor as indicated in the deed to the real estate.

2. Through Contract

The list would not be complete without mention of this method, but it applicability to Real Estate is limited at best. The types of assets that rely on this method of transfer include Life Insurance Policies, Pay on Death Designations, and Annuities.

3. Through Probate

Transfer of Real Estate through Probate process is the most common manner in which real estate is transferred upon the death of one’s parents. The Probate process, while relatively simple in Pennsylvania, does have a number of steps and items that need to be completed to properly open and estate, transfer the real estate, and then close the estate.

To open the estate, there must be an administrator or executor appointed by the Register of Wills. If there is a Last Will and Testament in existence, then the individual named as the Executor can take the original Will, along with the death certificate, and a Petition to the Register of Wills and be appointed as the Executor. If there is no Last Will and Testament in existence, then Pennsylvania has a statutory procedure that dictates who may serve as the Administrator.

Real Estate and Estate Planning Attorneys in Lancaster, PA

If any of these situations describe what you are currently facing, contact us today as we would love to help and give you more detail on the processes by which you can deal with any of these situations. Or if you are concerned about ensuring your real estate is properly passed to your family, schedule an estate planning consultation.