What Happens When Wills and Deeds Conflict?

Image of paper legal documents for the last will and testament. Captioned: What Happens When Wills and Deeds Conflict?

When a person passes away, the death certificate and last will are submitted to the county probate court. A person representative begins the process of passing assets along as the will directs — except when other valid legal instruments have priority. One of those instruments is the all-important real estate deed.

Houses can be left to their owners’ chosen beneficiaries through wills. But when someone who co-owns a house passes away, questions may arise as to what the last will says versus what the deed says. In case of a conflict, does the last will get the last word? Short answer: probably not. The long answer starts with the way the title is vested.

Survivorship Rights Vs. Tenancies in Common

When an owner dies, a properly signed and recorded deed directs and channels the person’s property interest to its next owner, typically according to the following rules.

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If You Inherit a House, Act. A Cautionary Tale About Putting Off Probate

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A Cautionary Tale About Putting Off Probate

Five years ago in Texas, John died, willing his house to a nephew, A.W.

Today, A.W. wants to get ready to sell the house, and pay off some debt.

Here’s the rub. The will never went through probate, and a different relative of John’s has been living in the home all this time.

Who gets the house?

A.W. was named as the next owner in the will, and never refused the deed. So, legally, A.W. owns it, right? Wrong. Procrastination is the thief of assets, as A.W. learned the hard way. A will does not enact itself. It has to be probated according to a timeline. 

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When a Spouse, Partner, or Relative Dies: What’s Next for the Home?

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Real Estate and Death

Homes are complicated assets. When a homeowner dies, this becomes obvious. When loved ones are experiencing grief and loss, the real estate details can border on overwhelming.

If someone in your life died holding an interest in real estate, here is some general guidance. You might have some actions to take, depending on the situation.

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Your Real Estate and Probate

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When a person dies, the property owned by the deceased person—alone, or in the names of the deceased and another person without survivorship rights—finds its way to the county probate court.

If the deceased person co-owned property, and the living co-owner holds a right of survivorship, probate is not an issue for the real estate. The asset passes to the surviving owner upon presentation of a certified copy of the former owner’s death certificate. In other words, the surviving co-owner absorbs the share of the person who has died.

Yet many people die as the sole owners of real estate, which then becomes probate property.

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Probate Creditors’ Rights Under Texas Law

Probate Creditors' Rights Under Texas Law

Paying off the decedent’s debts is one of the primary duties of an estate’s executor or administrator. Failing to do this can lead to personal liability on the executor or administrator’s part. The estate’s creditors have rights under Texas probate law, but all are time-sensitive. If estate assets are limited, whether the creditor receives reimbursement depends on the nature of the debt.

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Probate and Sale of Real Property in West Virginia

Probate is the legal process of settling a decedent’s estate and distributing property to those entitled to receive it. This involves authenticating a testator’s will upon his or her death and transferring property to the named beneficiaries, or, if the decedent dies without leaving a will, determining the decedent’s legal heirs. Probate ensures that, by complying with state law, clear and marketable title passes to devisees or heirs at law.

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Transferring Real Property from a Probate Estate in Vermont

When a person dies, her debts and assets become part of her estate and are subject to a legal process called probate. “Probate” means to prove the validity of a will, but the primary objectives of probating an estate are settling the estate’s debts and distributing the remaining assets to beneficiaries according to the terms of the decedent’s will. A will is insufficient to pass title to real property unless it has been proved in a Vermont probate court (14 V.S.A. 101). If a decedent dies intestate (without a valid will), her estate is distributed in accordance with Vermont’s laws of descent and distribution, codified at 14 V.S.A. 301, et seq.

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