Westall, Gray & Connolly, P.A. | firstname.lastname@example.org | 828-254-6315 | Hours: M-F 8:30am - 5pm
A house is usually the largest asset that anyone will own in their lifetime. Buying a house to raise a family in, or your own house to get away from everyone else, is a monumental achievement. People spend years paying off the house, looking after it, and developing attachments to the house. This is especially true in family homes. This makes it all the more important to plan wisely for your estate.
What will happen to my house when I have died? What will happen to my parents' house at their passing? Will the Estate Administration affect this?
If there is no will, the house will pass through intestate succession. Intestate succession is where the assets of the deceased pass through the bloodlines and marriage. Intestate succession can lead to surprises, such as your children sharing the family home with a spouse through a second marriage; your children may not be ready for such a situation.
If there is a will, the will directs who is to inherit the house; it can be one person or many people in some instances. We strongly encourage everyone to have a will as it allows for the best planning, and provides the most control after you are gone.
North Carolina law considers the legal title to the house to pass when the will is admitted to probate; which means the Clerk of Court accepts the will as valid. If there is no will, the legal title to the house passes at the time of death.
What happens to the mortgage?
The mortgage comes with the house. If you inherit the house, you inherit the mortgage. The mortgage is not an expense of the deceased, nor will the estate pay off the mortgage. If several people are going to inherit a house, they all have an equal obligation to pay the mortgage and the taxes. This can catch some people off guard or in a situation where they may not be old enough to have a job that allows them to pay a mortgage. Creating a will can avoid situations of fighting over the mortgage, who gets to live in the home, or leaving someone possibly facing foreclosure because they do not have enough money.
There are instances where the Estate may need to sell the house, or the real property, to pay off debts of the Estate. Most likely, to sell the real estate will involve a court proceeding, in which the owners of the house will have an opportunity to support or oppose the decision to sell the house.
If you have questions about what to do with your house when making your will, or questions about a piece of property involved in an Estate Administration, we will be glad to speak with you and ensure you get the clarity you are looking for.