If you’ve inherited a home there’s probably a lot of stress and emotion in your life right now. It always feels strange to start taking care of assets and paperwork amidst the grieving process. Inheriting a property is an incredible gift and it can be the catalyst for a life-changing financial leap. The first thing you’ll need to do is change the deed to the house. This is a multi-step process that can be rather intimidating. Don’t worry— we’ll walk you through it.
1. Get paperwork in order
Before you start the deed transfer process you’ll need to get some documents together. You will need to acquire a copy of the will and a certified copy of the death certificate. The deceased should have included a statement that bequeaths the property to you alongside a full description of the property.
2. Set up a date in probate court
Kentucky law states that a copy of the will must be probated before you can change the deed. Probate is the process of reviewing the assets and the validity of the inheritors. This process will verify the existence and authenticity of the will.
(The executor of the estate is responsible for setting up a date in probate court.)
3. Confirm property ownership
If the property was owned by one person, and is bequeathed to only one person, the process should be straightforward. If the property was jointly owned, you’ll need to take some extra steps. If two people are on the house deed, you’ll need to verify whether the deed was in joint survivorship or tenants in common. If the property was in joint survivorship, the house automatically transfers to the surviving owner, and you cannot claim ownership over the property until the surviving owner is deceased. If the deed shows tenants in common, you’ll want to consult with the surviving owner and possibly an attorney about your new interest and rights to the property.
4. Draft a new deed
This stage can be highly technical and complicated. You’ll want to contact a title company or your estate attorney to help you. They will get in touch with your county clerk for deed specifications. The deed must also include:
- Your full, legal name
- Your Address
- The full legal name of the deceased
- The address of the deceased
- A detailed description of the property
It is not required to work with an estate attorney to draft up the deed but it is highly recommended. Double-check any documents before moving to the next step.
5. Sign and notarize the deed
You will need to sign the new deed in the presence of a notary. Schedule an appointment at the post office or bank. The notary will verify your identity and ensure the signing is legitimate. This is the standard practice for most legal documents.
6. Deliver the new deed
It’s time to make it official! Submit the new deed, death certificate, and copy of the probated will to your county clerk. You can send these documents by mail or deliver them in hand. You will likely be required to pay a small filing fee. Check your local county clerk’s office for details on where to submit documents for your specific county.
7. Update your will
After this process is over, make sure to spend a little time setting up your own affairs. Update your official will to include this property (or money acquired from the sale of the property).
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. My siblings and I were jointly left a property. I’m not sure how to handle this.
Inheriting a house with siblings means that the ownership is divided equally among you unless the will explicitly states otherwise. The easiest thing to do is to sell the house and split the profits equally. If one sibling has strong sentimental ties to the home and wants to keep it, they can buy their siblings out of their shares.
2. Do I need to worry about inheritance tax?
The federal government doesn’t have an inheritance tax. Yet, Kentucky is one of only six states that impose this tax. It can be complicated to navigate this tax.
- Class A beneficiaries are exempt from paying any taxes. Class A beneficiaries include spouse, parent, child, grandchild, brother, sister, half-brother, and half-sister.
- Class B beneficiaries receive a $1,000 tax exemption and are taxed at a rate between 4%-16%. Class B beneficiaries include nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, and inlaws.
- Class C beneficiaries receive a $500 tax exemption and include anyone not mentioned in Class A or Class B (that includes cousins and nieces and nephews by marriage).
For more information, check the official guide to Kentucky inheritance tax.
3. Is it my responsibility to notify any creditors?
It’s the responsibility of the executor of the estate to notify any creditors. If you’re both the executor and the inheriting party, you’re responsible for publishing a death notice in the local newspaper. This serves as a legally sufficient notice to any creditors. From here, the creditors have a limited amount of time to file any claims against the estate.
4. Am I responsible for any property bills while the new deed is transferred?
Yes. Any ongoing bills (mortgage, utilities, insurance, etc.) must be paid even if the probate process isn’t complete.