Owning a house is a dream come true for many. From a purely financial standpoint, you get a sizable sum of money allocated in one of the most stable investments known to modern man – housing.
Places to live will always be in demand, no matter how much the times or societies change, and taking proper care of a property ensures a high return should you choose to sell it. And if you decide to keep it, it’s always something you can give to your children to safeguard their future.
However, coming into possession of a property is not always a happy event. If you’re a beneficiary in the will of someone who has recently passed away, you are likely more consumed by grief than thoughts of a new home. Plus, inheriting a property is not simply a matter of being given the keys.
There are numerous rules and procedures to follow and things to focus on, and below, we focus on some of the crucial ones, including determining whether you’re the sole inheritor, determining if the house has a mortgage or debts, checking the local probate rules, consulting the matter with a lawyer and even deciding on the fate of the said property.
Check if You’re the Only Inheritor
The first thing to do when inheriting a property is to check if you are the only beneficiary. It’s recommended to contact the lawyer who handled your deceased loved one’s will or even the county courthouse if there wasn’t one.
If there are other beneficiaries, you’ll need to get them involved in the process, even though it may decrease your overall inheritance. It’s always best to check the terms of the will, but if there are some other inheritors, make sure you don’t leave them out. This can lead to serious problems down the line.
Check the Local Probate Rules and Procedures
If you do decide to keep the property, you should check any local probate rules as soon as possible. This will help you avoid unpleasant surprises in the future and make sure the process is done correctly.
People who inherit a house are usually not interested in the legal side of things and end up facing serious problems in consequence. You’ll be held accountable for any mistakes or inefficiencies that may have occurred during the process, so you should always double-check every detail and make sure the transition goes smoothly.
It doesn’t matter if it’s about California, Texas, Nebraska, or Florida probate rules; they can vary significantly by state but should never be ignored.
Check if the Property Has Liens
Another thing you should check is whether the property has any liens. A lot of people who inherit a house don’t know they’re also inheriting the debt that person had, so it pays to check this out before moving in.
If there is any, contact the lender and pay it off as soon as possible. You’ll only be making trouble for yourself by ignoring the debt and hoping it goes away, as it can haunt you for the rest of your life. If you can’t settle the debts, it’s best to simply give up the inheritance.
Decide if You Want to Keep the Property
As soon as you get the keys to the new house, you need to start thinking about what to do with it. This can be a daunting decision as well, especially if you weren’t expecting to inherit it or have plans on moving out of town soon. While it’s tempting to sell the property and move on, you should probably think long and hard about it first.
You never know when a new financial emergency will strike, leaving you unable to find a new place to live. Having a house will always be an advantage when it comes to finding a job or even getting married someday, and if you don’t want to live in it, you can always rent it and make it your passive income source.
So before you decide to sell the house, think about the long-term consequences, not just the short-term ones.
Talk to an Attorney for Further Guidance
The last thing to do is talk to an attorney or an estate lawyer. Even if you’re moving on from your inheritance, this person can help you with the process, whatever path you choose. While they aren’t cheap, they know all the ins and outs of the laws and will help you avoid unpleasant surprises in the future. You should never be afraid to ask for help or advice when you don’t know what to do; you don’t want to get stuck with a problem for the rest of your life.
Owning a house is a big responsibility, but it also represents a great opportunity. If you decide to keep the property, you’ll have a place to live and can even start making money by renting it out to others. But you’ll be held accountable for any mistakes or inefficiencies that might occur during the process, so make sure everything goes smoothly from the get-go.
Whether you decide to sell the property or make it your own, a good lawyer is always recommended. You never know what might happen in the future, and some of the problems you encounter might be too complex for you to handle on your own. It’s always better to hire an expert to help you out.