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Does a New York estate with a house have to go through probate?

On Behalf of | Jul 26, 2021 | Estate Administration & Probate |

Someone’s home might represent years of investment. Many people pay as much as a third of their income for their mortgage every month, making their home their biggest overall asset. Many people in New York want to pass their home or other real estate holdings on to family members.

If your loved one has left you a home or other piece of real property in their estate, you may want to move in as soon as possible to avoid renewing your lease or list it to take advantage of the competitive real estate market.

Will the house have to pass through the New York probate process before you can take ownership of it?

Who owns the house?

Your rights as the person inheriting the property depend on the ownership status of the property. Was it held as the sole property of the deceased individual? If so, New York is quite clear that real estate requires probate oversight for transfer from a testator to a beneficiary. Even if the property isn’t worth much money, the probate courts will have to oversee the process of transferring ownership from the deceased person to the next generation.

On the other hand, if you owned the house jointly with the deceased individual, the probate courts may not need to play a role. If you hold title as a joint tenant with rights of survivorship, you inherit their interest in the property at the time of their death without any probate requirements.

Sometimes, people will move their homes into trusts as well. Real estate in a trust is not directly owned by the deceased and can therefore often bypass probate proceedings.

Probate can actually be beneficial for major transfers

For many people planning their estate or administering one, avoiding probate as much as possible is the only goal. While probate can take time and cost money, it also facilitates a smoother transfer of ownership.

Going through the probate process for an estate involving real property will diminish the likelihood of problems in the future, like title claims against the property brought by unhappy heirs. The better you understand probate rules in New York, the easier it will be for you to administer an estate or advocate for yourself as an heir.