Charlotte, NC asked in Estate Planning for North Carolina

Q: My spouse passed away in North Carolina without a will, is the home outside of the estate

Will my mom and children get house at time of death or will it be unsettled till credit card debt is paid

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1 Lawyer Answer
Catherine E Bruce
Catherine E Bruce
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Chapel Hill, NC

A: The answer to your question depends on how the house is titled. If someone owned the house jointly with your spouse as "tenants by the entireties" or "joint tenants with rights of survivorship," that person now owns the property. If the property was titled in one of these two forms, it passes outside of probate to the other joint owner(s).

If your spouse owned the home solely in his own name or as "tenants in common" with another person, an estate will need to be opened in order to transfer or sell his interest in the property. Technically title vests immediately in your spouse's heirs upon his death. However, certain steps should be taken before the heirs transfer the property (opening the estate, publishing a notice to creditors, etc), to make sure it is valid. Further, the transfer of this property to the heirs is subject to the right of the Administrator to seize and sell the property, if doing so is necessary to pay the estate's debts. Thus, even though the heirs have title to the property in this situation, they probably won't be able to transfer the property immediately.

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