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Author: FoolStreet Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 121095  
Subject: Dying w/o a Will Date: 7/24/2003 6:33 PM
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Hi there,

I'm sure you all remember me as being the one with the craziest, most complicated tax matters, and the one who will simply not take, "talk to your lawyer" as an aswer. :-) Well, I've got another one for y'all.

My grandmother passed away a couple years ago and my family is trying to figure out what to do with her house. My dad is kinda still shook up about it, and has pretty much ignored a lot of the details that need to be handled, so has asked me to help try to figure things out since I've done a lot of research on Real Estate and am pretty good w/ that stuff.

So, yes, grandma had a will. But apparently, my dad and his sisters (everyone who was on the will), got together and pretty much decided how to split up the life insurance and house. They basically decided that the sisters would get the life insurance (which they have since received) and that my dad would get the house. In fact, they all pretty much seemed to act as if there was never a will.

So, please assume for a second that there was no will. If there was no will, what do we need to record at the county recorder's office in order to put the house in my father's name? I just got off the phone w/ the recorder's office and they said that we would need to provide an affidavit of death, and "any other document" we wanted to record. Basically, they said that they would record anything and it wasn't up to them to determine whether in fact what was being recorded was appropriate or not.

So, my question is, what do I need to give them to record which would be "appropriate" to put the house in my dad's name?

Normally, a lawyer would file the document, but there's really no reason to have a lawyer file a document that I can file, is there?

thanks for your thoughts!!
-alex
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Author: pmarti Big funky green star, 20000 posts Home Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 66277 of 121095
Subject: Re: Dying w/o a Will Date: 7/25/2003 3:20 AM
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I just got off the phone w/ the recorder's office and they said that we would need to provide an affidavit of death, and "any other document" we wanted to record. Basically, they said that they would record anything and it wasn't up to them to determine whether in fact what was being recorded was appropriate or not.

So, my question is, what do I need to give them to record which would be "appropriate" to put the house in my dad's name?


Oh, goodie. People must be getting tired of my rant about do-it-yourself estate planning. Now I can move on to do-it-yourself estate execution. Money can do strange things to people, and distributing the estate without regard to the will's provisions and without legal disclaimers is just asking for trouble. Your father and his siblings may remain on good terms throughout this, but if they do it won't be without ample opportunity to get mad at each other. I won't even begin to speculate about what trouble you and your cousins could stir up when the older generation is gone.

The wonderful thing about recorders is that they'll record your grocery list if you pay the filing fee. Don't worry about satisfying the recorder; worry about satisfying the title examiner.

Some day someone is going to want to sell this property, and when that time comes, it won't be saleable without a good chain of title. If that time is now, there's no need to put the property in your father's name. The estate sells it and distributes the proceeds in accordance with the will or the laws of intestate distribution. (Or, it seems in this case, however you please.) Through the closing process you'll wind up providing all the necessary paperwork.

If you want to put this property in your father's name, you need a lawyer. (If you want a different answer, ask a different question.) You can't pretend there wasn't a will without lying in sworn documents. What will probably be required is proof of death, a copy of the will, and quit claims from the disclaiming heirs.

It will cost a lot less in attorney's fees to do this right the first time. Pay now or pay more later to straighten out a mess.

Phil

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Author: FoolStreet Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 66278 of 121095
Subject: Re: Dying w/o a Will Date: 7/25/2003 3:37 AM
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If you want to put this property in your father's name, you need a lawyer. (If you want a different answer, ask a different question.) You can't pretend there wasn't a will without lying in sworn documents. What will probably be required is proof of death, a copy of the will, and quit claims from the disclaiming heirs.

It will cost a lot less in attorney's fees to do this right the first time. Pay now or pay more later to straighten out a mess.


phil, you rock and i respect your willingness to answer my question. i'm not sure if i can really ask a *different* question, but if you have the patience, I would like to ask *more* questions to clarify what you've said so far.

first, i understand the issue family emotions, etc. believe me, i do. and I want to do the right thing. which brings me to your " get a lawyer comment"

you said, What will probably be required is proof of death, a copy of the will, and quit claims from the disclaiming heirs.


fair enough, i'll assume that what my dad is telling me is on the straight and narrow and he can get his siblings to get the quit claims.

my question is,

"what is the lawyer going to do?" what is it that is so "magical" about a lawyer? I mean, if all the lawyer is going to do is file the proof of death, copy of will and quit claims, then, why can't we do that and move on?

something tells me there's an interim step there....??

phil, I'm not sure if your first comment about DIY estate planning was meant to be taken at face value or if you were kind of jesting me that maybe I *shouldn't* be trying to learn this stuff for myself... I have a few older people in my lives and I figure I'm going to have to deal with it sooner or later, the only difference is that if i'm trying to deal one of *my* parents estates in the future, i'm going to have a lot *more* emotions going on and i'd rather figure out what's going on ahead of time.

so, if you are truly supportive of the DIY mentality (within reason - eg, doing it "right"), then please help me understand what it is i'll need to ask the lawyer to do for me.

i've had very bad experiences w/ lawyers who charge me to do their own research and end up doing it wrong.

also, by responding to me on the boards, hopefully, you can help someone else figure this out too.

the irony does not escape me that i'm asking you to help me to understand something that a lawyer would charge $250/hour to explain, and I'm appreciative, and simply respond by saying, "give and take is what makes the Fool so cool" :-)

..and i'll pick up a NOLO book on settling a will this weekend from the library so i don't keep asking you stupid/obvious questions. ...i just need a little pointing in the right direction and you'll be amazed at how fast a learner i am.

thanks!!

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Author: pmarti Big funky green star, 20000 posts Home Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 66282 of 121095
Subject: Re: Dying w/o a Will Date: 7/25/2003 8:37 AM
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you said, What will probably be required is proof of death, a copy of the will, and quit claims from the disclaiming heirs.

fair enough, i'll assume that what my dad is telling me is on the straight and narrow and he can get his siblings to get the quit claims.

my question is,

"what is the lawyer going to do?" what is it that is so "magical" about a lawyer? I mean, if all the lawyer is going to do is file the proof of death, copy of will and quit claims, then, why can't we do that and move on?

something tells me there's an interim step there....??


You're paying the lawyer to get rid of "probably" in my response. I don't even know where your grandfather lived, not that it would help, since I haven't the first clue what probate requirements are in that jurisdiction unless it's Illinois.

phil, I'm not sure if your first comment about DIY estate planning was meant to be taken at face value or if you were kind of jesting me that maybe I *shouldn't* be trying to learn this stuff for myself... I have a few older people in my lives and I figure I'm going to have to deal with it sooner or later, the only difference is that if i'm trying to deal one of *my* parents estates in the future, i'm going to have a lot *more* emotions going on and i'd rather figure out what's going on ahead of time.

Let me rein in my wit and be perfectly clear: IMO trying to plan or administer an estate without legal counsel is a horrible idea.

Between June 2001 and May 2002 I lost both my parents and one of my closest friends. I don't recall your exact words, but in your OP you mentioned that your father just hasn't been up to dealing with this. Believe me, I can understand. Juggling three estates, one very complicated, while dealing with an enormous loss took all my strength and concentration. Trying to figure out and execute everything that had to be done by myself would have been beyond even my considerable talents.

so, if you are truly supportive of the DIY mentality (within reason - eg, doing it "right"), then please help me understand what it is i'll need to ask the lawyer to do for me.

i've had very bad experiences w/ lawyers who charge me to do their own research and end up doing it wrong.


As Ann Landers used to say, half the lawyers graduated in the bottom half of their classes. As when dealing with any professional, if you're not getting what you're paying for, the line is "Thank you for your time. I'll not be needing any more of your services."

I've yammered at people for years to get their papers in order, but, of course, I'd not done my own. After my mother's death, when I saw how relatively easy it was to take care of things because everything was in order, I got off my duff and had mine done. I spent less than $300, including funding a living trust, and I spent less than $300 in attorney's fees clearing up both my parents' estates. I consider it money well spent.

Phil


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Author: irasmilo Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 66283 of 121095
Subject: Re: Dying w/o a Will Date: 7/25/2003 9:44 AM
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phil,

I don't do this often, but I wish I could have given you 100 recs for this post.

Ira

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Author: edcosoft Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 66285 of 121095
Subject: Re: Dying w/o a Will Date: 7/25/2003 12:52 PM
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Your question consists ONLY of transferring title of the house to your father. You divided up everything else, but you may have left a gift tax problem by giving the Life Insurance proceeds (and bank accounts?) to someone other than the named beneficiary. Your real problem is that if you don't get the title transferred now, when you sell the house the Title Company ( on behalf of the purchaser and his Mortgage Co) will demand a Probate of your grandmothers' estate, which was never done, and was a long time ago, and was contrary to her will.

So, best to do it now while you still have her death certificate, will, last electric and gas bill, credit card statement, property tax bill, 1040, etc.
The lawyer will prepare a deed and file it. The Title company will want the probate papers to prove that father is the correct title holder, and of couse he isn't because the will doesn't say that. That's no problem with waivers from the sisters, but still no Probate to prove all granny's bills and taxes were paid and there wasn't another child she disenherited or other claims on her estate, like an unpaid carpenter.

There are several ways to get around actually doing a Probate, depending on your State (or county). A Probate lawyer will know how to get the Title Company to produce a clear and valid title, and record it for posterity at your County Clerks Office. If you try to go directly to the Title Company, they will hire a lawyer to prepare the papers, but it might be cheaper. The title transfer will effectively cost you about 2% of the value of the house. This is the cost of a Bond in Lieu of Probate, or a Waiver of Probate from the title company. Your State may have a quickie Probate proceedure for just this sort of problem that might cost less. Call your county Probate office and ask. Otherwise, call a Probate lawyer and ask. Not all lawyers are willing to bypass Probate with a Bond or Waiver. They think it is illegal (or not profitable for them). In some States it might actually be illegal.

I am not a lawyer, so don't rely on the above literally. I DID, however, as a general insurance broker in Chicago, write a LOT of Bonds-in-lieu-of-Probate (without a lawyer) for circumstances quite similar to yours. Although the Bonds guaranteed transfer of Stocks, Bond, CDs, etc., when the Chicago Title found we would issue a bond, they offered to waive Probate for the same 2% fee. Ed

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Author: DWSZ Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 66286 of 121095
Subject: Re: Dying w/o a Will Date: 7/25/2003 1:38 PM
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Phil, your comment:

"....when dealing with any professional, if you're not getting what you're paying for, the line is "Thank you for your time. I'll not be needing any more of your services."

I LUV IT! Please see my post # 57483 over at the "buying/selling a home" board. I echo your advice to the OP. There are certain things in life today that are not DIY projects and dealing with "wills" and family harmony are definately not a sure thing when trying to take the "easy way out."

Best regards,
Duane


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Author: buzman Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 66290 of 121095
Subject: Re: Dying w/o a Will Date: 7/25/2003 2:45 PM
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.i just need a little pointing in the right direction

If you will read his posts very carefully you will find out that is what he exactly trying to do.



buzman

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Author: njashmore Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 66336 of 121095
Subject: Re: Dying w/o a Will Date: 7/31/2003 2:49 PM
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My husband recently died and would just like to state that paying for expert advice is worth it ! I find all this stuff very complicated. The lawyer has made the legal portion of the experience easy. Remember the 'Acres of Diamonds' guy who had all the diamonds if he'd only hired a gemologist or whatever.

The real surprise legally was my husband did not change the ownership of his life ins, etc like the lawyer set up with our wills(not a terrible thing just the bypass trust doesn't work very well when you don't fund it). My husband was only 51 and had an unexpected heart attack. Please do what the lawyer tells you to do even when you think 'nothing' will happen -- to facilitate the intent of the will.

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Author: petelovely555 Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 66337 of 121095
Subject: Re: Dying w/o a Will Date: 7/31/2003 2:52 PM
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Alex: You're about to learn what is meant by your state's intestacy law.If the will is not filed,the state will tell you,through the wonderful world of probate,who gets the "stuff" that grandma owned. This includes the house and all the other "stuff i.e. bank accounts,florida swamp land(bought from cousin Willie during his short sales career) and any other material things she owned. You (the estate) will also have the benefit of probate proceedures like appraisals ect. You may also have to be appointed as an administrator in order to sell the "stuff".


Record the will before you split up the insurance proceeds. Make sure you read the insurance beneficiary designation before you give anyone anything.




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