Knoxville, TN asked in Estate Planning for Tennessee

Q: Uncle is leaving me his house. Deed has his name and his sister's name who has passed. What do I need to do?

Aunt and Uncle each owned 50% of house. She passed so it it his 100%. The deed still has his and her name on it. His will states he is leaving it to me. Is there anything that needs to be done so I don't run into any trouble if I want to sell it? How will house get transfer to me as the new owner? People say, put it in trust, transfer on death, have him change deed, etc? Do I have to provide each of the wills and death certificates for any reason? I'm just trying to be prepared when the times comes. my uncle is 93. We live in Knoxville, Tennessee.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Nina Whitehurst
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  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Crossville, TN
  • Licensed in Tennessee

A: You stated that your aunt passed and so now your uncle owns 100% of the house, but that may not necessarily be true. It depends on how they held title. If they held title as joint tenants with right of survivorship that is true, but your uncle should record an affidavit of death with a death certificate to update the title. If they held as tenants in common, which is more likely, then your uncle owns 50% and your aunt's estate owns 50%, meaning her heirs own 50%. Some process needs to take place to update your aunt's 50%. What kind of process depends on whether or not she had a will.

Regardless of what percentage your uncle owns (50% or 100%), he does have the right to leave it to whomever he wishes. There is more than one way to do this, however, and advice cannot be given in this sort of forum regarding which way is best because that all depends on a lot of other factors. Your uncle should contact an estate planning attorney to sort out his current ownership status and put an estate plan in place that accomplishes his goals.

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