By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

Lots of folks are dying to buy or sell a home. They may be eager, desperate, impatient, or anxious. However, they’re not literally dying.

Except when they are.

Yes, it has happened that a buyer or seller dies while they have a property under contract. They could die the day after the contract is signed or as they are walking into the title company on closing day. Both of those scenarios have occurred in offices where I’ve worked and it’s awful for everyone.

But what happens to the deal?

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By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

When a person dies holding real estate in their name, the property doesn’t transfer to heaven. Some people think the situation can become quite the opposite. The process can be agonizing.

The owner who has died obviously can’t sell their home after they’re dead. The property cannot be sold until their name has been removed from the title. That can be a long and often complicated process. Often the heirs aren’t prepared to deal with the months of upkeep expenses, taxes, mortgage payments, etc. that come with the property.

There are usually two situations when selling an estate property. The owner died either with or without a will to designate their wishes.

If the owner died with a will, the heirs can take immediate action. The will can be entered into probate proceedings with the county court within four years of death. A last will and testament does not automatically cause the real estate to transfer. It is just a statement of the deceased’s intent. The property must legally transfer to another person(s) or entity if it is to be sold.

An Heirship Affidavit may often be used if the will has left the property only to the direct descendants of the deceased. Sometimes, this may be a less expensive and faster process than a probate proceeding.

An Affidavit of Heirship is also required if the deceased died without a will.

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By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

There is more than one Big D in Dallas-area real estate. These important “Big Ds” represent the circumstances that often demand that someone sell their property. I’m talking about death, divorce, downsizing, disaster, debt, and default. These difficult situations can make transferring the title to a property more complicated.

Folks don’t like to think about most of these situations, but they are a real fact of life that many homeowners must deal with. In the coming weeks, we’ll take a closer look at the challenges in buying or selling a property when it involves one of these.

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