Estate Law Questions? Ask an Estate Lawyer.
Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I am a licensed attorney who will try my best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can.
If you were left as the sole heir in a will, who was named as executor in the will?
Ok, the way this works is that when someone dies, their estate then becomes the owner of everything that they owned personally except jointly owned assets that pass instantly upon their death. So things like real estate, bank accounts without named beneficiaries, and vehicles are all now owned by the estate. The only way to get those assets out of the estate and into your name personally is for the executor to file a petition for probate and be legally appointed to that position by a probate judge.
The will just nominates you to be executor. You don't have any legal authority until a judge formally appoints you. Once you are appointed, you have to gather all the assets, pay any final expenses of the deceased and any debts of the estate, and then you can transfer any assets to yourself as the sole heir.
This is obviously a very abbreviated description of probate as the normal probate process takes around a year from start to finish because there are mandatory waiting periods and final taxes have to be filed and cleared by the state and IRS.
So to answer your question directly, no, you can't just transfer assets over to yourself without going through probate...
Yes, that is your only option since there is real estate involved.. An estate is instantly created once someone dies and owns things... You don't "create" an estate, it is created immediately upon the person's death... You open a "probate case" to settle an estate. Right now the estate owns all the assets that the deceased owned when they were living.
So if you are not familiar with the court system and probate, I would highly recommend you contact a local probate attorney to assist with filing the paperwork to formally name you as executor so you can administer the estate.
You are very welcome.. Happy to help any time.. And yes, once you are formally named as executor, you have to put an ad in the paper stating you are opening the estate. The paper will have a standard notice. Then you have to wait a mandatory 3 months for "creditor claims" to come into the estate (if there are any). In the meantime, you have to pay off any outstanding debts or claims against the estate, file the final tax returns, and start on an "accounting" showing inflows and outflows from the estate. Once you get all the taxes filed and cleared, and any debts paid, you can petition the court to allow you to distribute any surplus assets to yourself, file the final accounting and then close the estate..