Washington, DC asked in Probate for District of Columbia

Q: My husband died intestate. My son is 4. Can I transfer the deed for the condo on his name (my name isn't on the deed).

Most of the estate's value is the equity on the condo (cca 150 000 dollars. The home value is cca 520 000). According to that, my son's 1/3 should be 50 000 dollars. I am currently unemployed, but I have enough assets to keep paying the mortgage for some time until I hopefully find the job again. However, the current situation, it seems, requires that I sell the house and pay my son the 50 000 dollars. Our home is our most valuable possession. There is no enough liquid assets in the estate (I don't have that amount either) to pay his 1/3. Selling our home would have a negative impact both on our present and our future. I would not be able to afford a new home/ or get a loan with my credit. I was hoping if I could transfer the deed to his name, that would solve that issue. Is there any other approach that would help us stay in our home and have his share secured ? Thank you kindly.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg
  • Probate Lawyer
  • Potomac, MD
  • Licensed in District of Columbia

A: By opening a probate estate, you can transfer or sell anything in your late husband's estate. What I don't understand is how you would be solving your economic problem by re-titling the home to your four-year old son. Once re-titled to him fully, it might be much more difficult to sell it when you can no longer afford to pay the mortgage. You might need to seek court approval of the sale. Through the probate, after getting appointed personal representative, you could act for you and your son in making some difficult financial decisions. If you cannot afford to maintain that mortgage payment, you are potentially harming both your 2/3rds interest and your husband's son 1/3 interest. Arguably, that is the tort of Waste. It is forbidden. I suppose you could also do nothing, and you and your four year old would share the home until you have the resources to file your late husbands' estate, but ignoring the looming danger of a mortgage you cannot afford will not save your son''s — or your — rights.

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