How to Transfer Property Without a Will

Blank Will

What to Do When There is No Will

Despite the rise of “fast and easy” estate planning templates and affordable legal services online, the average American still doesn’t have a will created. Simply put, a will is the best way to designate who gets what from your estate after you’re no longer here to speak for yourself. The best laid plans can go off track, naturally, so it’s understandable to find situations where property must be transferred without a will. So, how does it work?

The Details Are in the Deed (Really!)

For starters, depending on the type of deed the property had when the owner purchased it, there may not be a need for a will to transfer it over to someone else. This is most common in the cases of jointly owned property with a spouse. The full ownership category is referred to as “joint tenancy with rights of survivorship”, and it makes things easier during a very painful time in a widow or widower’s life.

If the deed was held only in the name of the deceased, the case will have to go through probate for the property to be transferred to someone else. This follows the laws of the deceased person’s state of residence.

When someone passes away without a will, they are intestate in the eyes of the law. This means that the probate system must handle succession, looking at the different classes of heirs. This will most likely start with spouses and children, and then extend to other family members. So if you wanted a close friend to inherit property but you didn’t put out a will that expresses that particular wish, they will not have any legal claim to the property.

Keep in mind that probate can take a long time: the American Bar Association estimated that probate can last anywhere from a handful of weeks to 2-3 years. Debts must be settled against the estate before anything can be transferred over to the heirs, which means that creditors must be given sufficient time to respond.

What To Do With an Inherited House?

Getting a house from your parents or another set of relatives can be part blessing, part curse, and pure headache. After all, if you already have a house, this means that you have doubled your house and yard work duties overnight. There are now two lawns to mow, two curbs to make appealing, and two homes that must be cleaned regularly to keep the dust bunnies from forming a mildly terrifying army. An inherited house also comes with a honey-do list of epic proportions, especially if the dearly departed didn’t find the time or resources to tackle the repairs.

You can turn to real estate investors that specialize in working with people that have inherited homes. They can bring you to a fast close without needing you to tend to the upkeep on the property. In addition to getting you out of the property quickly, they can also help you understand some of the legal and financial repercussions of selling an inherited property. The taxes are different, which means that you need a different set of professionals in your corner. Since real estate investors base their livelihood on building strong professional networks, they’re bound to have someone they can connect you with that can walk you through everything.


It’s a great time to connect with real estate investors that can help you get out of a house that you don’t plan on keeping. Contact us today and see what options you really have on the table.

Request a free, no obligation consultation.