Expecting to inherit land?

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Fighting over propertyHere’s a problem our clients frequently run into: their dream piece of land is stuck in probate. This is a tricky issue whether it’s the land they are supposed to inherit or a piece of land they want to purchase. But we often see it with land that hasn’t been properly willed to a relative.

Probate is the legal process that kicks in when someone passes away without leaving clear legal instructions on how ownership should pass for their land. Verbal instructions to family just aren’t going to cut it in the legal realm. A well-crafted will created with a real estate planning attorney involved is the best way to avoid this situation in the first place.

Let’s say my Aunt Edna has told me she wants to give me her property after she passes away. We’ve had several conversations about it, and the rest of the family knows her intentions as well.

But if she passes away without putting that into a will, it’s up to a judge to decide where the land goes. He’s going to decide based on the law, not based on her statements. And if I’m not her only surviving relative, you can bet I won’t be getting all the property she intended to give me.

It might take the courts up to a year to decide what to do with the land, and if that decision is contested, that’s an even bigger delay before anyone can do anything with the land she left behind. All because my Aunt Edna’s intentions weren’t made out clearly in a will.

How can you avoid a mess like that? Well, if a family member owns property that you hope to acquire some day, make sure that family member’s wishes for that land are properly recorded in a will or trust prepared by a good real estate planning attorney.

That could save you months or years of time you wouldn’t get to spend enjoying the land. If you need a referral to a capable real estate planning attorney in order to make that happen, give us a call. We’d be happy to make a connection for you.

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