Florida has a few ways for someone leave you property when they pass away. Some are easier for you than others. In some cases, the deceased’s name is still on the deed, and you soon realized there isn’t much you can do with a deed that has someone else’s name on it.
Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Here’s a pocket guide to Florida’s process, but you’ll want an attorney to review your work before it’s final, or to guide you through the process start to finish.
Inheriting a house by will
Because you’re in this bind, you’ve probably inherited this property through the will of the deceased. In that case, the house must be part of the probate process.
One of the purposes of probate is to properly sort out who has a legal right to the property left behind. The deceased may have a made a will that says you get the property, but any number of debts or agreements (liens or covenants, for example) may have legal dibs on exactly what happens to the property.
The court needs to take its time be sure you can have “clear title” to the property. In some cases, this might take up six months after filing for probate.
Thinking about how you would do it differently
There ways to pass on property that are easier for your heirs than leaving the deed in your will.
Every strategy has its advantages, disadvantages, costs and potential hazards, but once you have your own problem sorted out for yourself, consider your own estate plans. What will happen to your house (or houses) when you’re gone, and what chores will you leave behind? Real estate law and procedures are notoriously convoluted and you’re likely to need consultation with an attorney.
For example, you could consider a “Lady Bird” (or Enhanced Life Estate) deed. It lets you use and profit from the property, transfer the property when you die without it going through probate and, unlike many other arrangements, and nobody must make reimbursement payments to Medicare. Alternately, a Transfer on Death deed is similar with important restrictions.
Other strategies can include including the inheritor’s name on the deed, or you could set up a trust that specifies who will inherit the property.