Real property in estate administration
Title to real property vests in the heirs of the decedent at the time of the decedent’s death, or, if the decedent leaves a valid will, at the time of the probate of the will, with ownership rights in the heirs relating back to the time of death. These ownership rights are subject, however, to the sale of the real property by the personal representative of the estate to pay valid creditors and debts or the estate. Obviously, then, if it is determined that a link of ownership in a chain of title came from an estate, it will be necessary to locate and examine the estate file in the Office of the Clerk of Court. If an individual dies testate, that means that a will has been located and probated by the clerk. A review of the will and the application for letters testamentary will allow for an identification of the heirs of the decedent. If an individual dies intestate, that means that a valid will has not been located and probated. Title to real property in an intestate administration passes to the heirs of the decedent pursuant to Chapter 29 of the General Statutes, “Intestate Succession.” A review of the estate file and Chapter 29 will be necessary to identify the valid heirs and their specific percentage interests in the real property of the decedent. Once the valid heirs of the decedent have been identified, the means of transfer of the real property out of the estate must be examined. If an estate is properly administered, it is not necessary to have a deed flowing from the estate to the heirs. The heirs become the owners at the time of the death of the decedent and this ownership passes by law. That means that even if an estate file has been closed and time has passed, a deed in the name of the heirs may not appear in the Register of Deeds Office. Some heirs feel more comfortable with a deed and request that a deed be prepared and recorded.
Creditors and Liens in a loved one’s estate administration
The personal representative of a decedent’s estate is required to give notice to creditors of the estate of their right to submit claims. This notice must be published and posted. Unless the personal representative recognizes a claim as valid, he must also send notice to all known creditors. The notice advises creditors to submit claims by a date certain, at least three months from the first publication of the notice. Once this date passes, the personal representative can choose to refuse to recognize the claim as valid.