Q: Life Estate quit claim deed question
A relative recently passed away and I inherited property through a Life Estate quit claim deed and I am listed as one of the rems, what's next? Is it all automatic or do I have to bring certain documents to certain people? orange county Florida.
A: Very sorry for your loss and the passing of your relative, please accept my condolences.
You will want to speak with a Florida Probate Attorney. You will want to send the attorney a copy of the deed for review and you will need to determine if a probate is necessary. Depending on the type of assets and size of the estate, this will determine the type of probate that is necessary, if any. Usually, if the deed has been properly drafted, then all that may be necessary is a recording of a death certificate. Issues could potentially arise as it relates to homestead (if the property was homestead) and depending on who survived the deceased (surviving spouse). Usually, a life estate means just that, to the named person for their life and then to whomever else is listed after that life estate. The quit claim deed should already be recorded in the property records in the county where the property is located at the court house, if not, it should be and the same goes for getting the death certificate recorded. If there is a Will, it must also be submitted to the clerk of the court in the county where the person lived. Your starting point should likely be to find out whether a probate was started and or speaking with a probate attorney.
A: All you need to do to effectuate the transfer is record a short-form death certificate of the life tenant. You can contact the clerk of court for Orange County to get specifics on the costs of recording.
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A: Well for one thing you would need to record proof of death on the public records which can be accomplished by recording a death certificate with cause of death deleted. Cause of death is confidential under Florida Law.
Before you do that it would be a good idea to have the deed under which you are a remainder person to be reviewed by a probate or real estate attorney to make sure the quit claim deed was properly drafted. There are other issues, like who is living there and can that person get a homestead exemption on the property, are there questions as to who is entitled to possession, and what to do if all the remainder persons do not want to retain ownership.
Also there are tax consequences. This is not an inheritance since the title was gifted to the remainder persons during the grantor's lifetime, the grantor merely retained the right to possess the property during the remainder of his life, and hence remainder persons take the grantor's basis in the property, not the stepped up date of death value, so this could be a major consideration as far as considering sale of the property since taxes on the increase in value since the time the grantor originally purchased the property could take a major bite.
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