How did the seller inherit this property?

Gift of house

When someone passes away owning real property, that property ultimately passes to a new owner who may then choose to sell the property.  Of course it is important to know, that this process is not necessarily automatic and when it is, there are still certain things that must be done to convey clear marketable title to a new purchaser.

The easiest example of a situation where a property passes automatically is when it is owned by a husband and wife as tenants by the entirety.  In this case, if the husband passes away the wife now owns the property.  If you have a closing that meets this set of facts, there is unlikely to be a delay in closing.  However, your real estate attorney will need to draft and record certain legal documents to ensure that clear title is passed to the new purchaser at closing.

An example where a property would not pass automatically would be when a mother passes away leaving property to her child in a will.  In this situation, probate of the estate is required before the child can sell the property.

It is important to identify early in the closing process whether the seller who inherited, or believes that they inherited a property is the true current owner to avoid potentially long delays or a cancelled contract.  A few red flags to look out for are the seller mentioning that the property being sold was inherited, or if you are unable to verify through the property appraiser or tax collector that the seller is the named owner of record.

If you suspect that your seller may have inherited a property, make sure to notify your real estate attorney so that this information can be verified early in the process and all necessary steps can be taken to ensure the correct information is included on all documents, the correct process is being pursued, and the correct forms are being drafted and/or recorded.


Berlin Patten Ebling, PLLC

Article Authored by Jessica Featherstone, Esq.

This communication is not intended to establish an attorney client relationship, and to the extent anything contained herein could be construed as legal advice or guidance, you are strongly encouraged to consult with your own attorney before relying upon any information contained herein.

All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged. 


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