A widow’s will leaves everything equally to her four children. She has two homes in two different states. How will those homes get transferred legally to her children?
Newsday explains this in its recent article, “How can my children prove they own my houses after I die?”
The executor will engage an attorney to file the decedent’s will in probate court. In many instances, it’s the same attorney who initially drafted the will.
After the probate judge reviews the document, he or she, more often than not, validates the will and issues “letters testamentary.” These letters authorize the executor to carry out the instructions in the will.
Children won’t be required to do anything to prove ownership of the houses. After the decedent’s will is probated, it’s a public document, and a buyer’s title insurer will verify that the sellers—in this case the four children—do indeed own the house.
A certificate of the court’s “letters testamentary” is the only document the executor is required to have, in order to legally sell your house and to distribute the proceeds in equal shares to the children. However, it’s not uncommon for a buyer to request a copy of the death certificate, although it’s really unnecessary, since it’s been filed with the court in the probate proceeding.
For the house in the second state, the executor will need to retain an attorney admitted to the bar in that state to file for ancillary probate there, before he or she can sell that house. The court in that state will then ask the court in the first for official or “exemplified” copies of all the needed documents. This will include the death certificate, the will and the letters testamentary, along with the signatures of the probate judge and the county clerk where the will was initially probated.
In simple terms, your will is the document that proves your heirs own the houses you will have left for them.
Reference: Newsday (June 28, 2017) “How can my children prove they own my houses after I die?”