Legal Question about an estate deed transfer to multiple parties...
May 19, 2017 1:05 PM   Subscribe

Understanding YANML or YANAL, here's the situation:
  • Mom passed away.
  • Her will gives her half of a summer cabin to my sister and I. (25% each)
  • The other half is owned by my two cousins (25% each).
  • I am the estate executor.

To change the deed, I understand I need to file a Personal Representatives Deed for Distribution. My question: how do I designate what is to occur with regard to the grantees (recipients)?

(*I checked with the county recorders office, and they were not helpful, don't know and said I'd need a lawyer.)

Would I,

A. List my mom as 100% owner of her half, and just my sister and I as grantees (ie. mom 100%-->us 50%/50%)

B. List my mom as 50% owner, and just my sister and I as grantees (ie. mom 50%-->us 25%/25%)

C. List all four parties (mom 50%--> us and cousins 25% each)

D. All four and listing cousins as owners (cousins 50%; mom 50%--> us and cousins 25% each) - maybe specifying that my mom's 50% is being divided to my sister and me? Can you make an addendum of some sort? Not much form space.

All fairly nuanced and different. Frankly I was a bit surprised the recorders office could not help - they do do this stuff all the time, but there you are.

Any advice will help! Thanks.
posted by ecorrocio to Law & Government (9 answers total)
(*I checked with the county recorders office, and they were not helpful, don't know and said I'd need a lawyer.)

This is actually helpful advice! You need a lawyer, especially with three other people involved.
posted by lalex at 1:17 PM on May 19, 2017 [12 favorites]

Yeah, this is a request for specific legal advice, one that depends a lot on many, many variables, including where you are located, and where the property is located. I know you've been trying to avoid getting a lawyer on this, but now's the time.
posted by China Grover at 1:35 PM on May 19, 2017 [2 favorites]

I am sorry for your loss. I would suggest a lawyer for this as well since it's complicated.

Given that, my experience in working out estate stuff in the US indicates to me that you need to work this out with the cousins. If they are current living owners it's probably them who have to do the paperwork and you who just tell them how it has to work to change ownership of your mom's share.

Your mom no longer owns anything. The estate owns her share until it's split/distributed. Since she was only partial owner of the property all you do is renegotiate her share and then you and your sister need to make plans (legally) of how to deal with your shares if something should happen to you. Best of luck working this out.
posted by jessamyn at 1:37 PM on May 19, 2017

IANAL, TINLA, I am in New York State so the rules are probably a little different, but I've been doing both real estate and probate work for over 20 years now.

I'm going to assume the deed into your mother and cousins owning the property didn't have any sort of "joint tenants with rights of survivorship" clause, which would mean that your mother's share would automatically go to your cousins, regardless of what her Will said. (Apparently there is also a thing in Colorado called a "Beneficiary Deed", which automatically passes real estate to a beneficiary without the need for probate, which is interesting. ANYWAY...)

Have you been appointed as the Executor of your mother's estate by the Probate Court? (This is different than just being the named Executor in a Will.) You do not have legal authority to transfer the title of the property until you have been officially appointed by the Court. This process involves filing various forms and paying various fees, at which point you will be given Letters Testamentary. Then you can file the Deed you're discussing.

TL;DR: you need a lawyer.
posted by Lucinda at 2:21 PM on May 19, 2017 [2 favorites]

I've been through this process. I'm an extremely capable person, and prefer to DIY as much as anyone, but you do need a lawyer for this.

Perhaps folks here can suggest the best way for the OP to find a local lawyer to do this?
posted by intermod at 2:33 PM on May 19, 2017

Perhaps folks here can suggest the best way for the OP to find a local lawyer to do this?

Easiest answer would be to contact the attorney who prepared the will in the first place.

If that's not an option, contact the local Bar Association.
posted by Lucinda at 2:35 PM on May 19, 2017

You also need an HOA of sorts to outsource negotiations regarding taxes, repairs, scheduling, damages, insurance, decoration, and so forth. The four of you make a legal HOA which agrees up front, with the help of an experienced attorney how things go. Then you can all stay friendly, and enjoy recreating there.
posted by Oyéah at 3:49 PM on May 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

You can walk thru the process at the courthouse to get your Letters Testamentary which gives you control of the estate (basically a small company with tax number and everything). You get to do taxes, as well. Does this sound like fun? If not, an estate lawyer and her paralegal will do it for you for a nominal fee. Nominal being relative to what your time is worth. Enjoy.
posted by ptm at 7:45 PM on May 19, 2017

Yes, consulting with a lawyer is highly recommended. To begin with, you are NOT the executor of the estate until the probate court says you are. Until you have a form from the court giving you authority to act, you cannot do anything.
posted by yclipse at 7:59 PM on May 21, 2017

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