How do I gain legal ownership of property from deceased grandmother without a Will although it was verbally agreed and can be attested by witnesses?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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How do I gain legal ownership of property from deceased grandmother without a Will although it was verbally agreed and can be attested by witnesses?

I have a grandmother who passed away about 2 years ago who wasn’t my biological grandmother but my step dads mother but we treated eachother as if we were blood related. She told me time and time again through my teenage years up until she passed that she was going to leave her home to me when she passed. It was not written but verbal and her children my step dad and his sisters and brothers can attest to this being said. Would that be enough to legally gain ownership of the property she left? And also her brother was left as power of attorney. Does that give him legal ownership over the property? and if so how would I be able to gain ownership if I asked him to have it signed over to me?

Asked on November 9, 2017 under Estate Planning, Georgia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

No, her oral wishes or instructions ("oral," not "verbal," is the correct term for unwritten instructions or statements) have no legal effect whatsoever, regardless of how many people can attest to them. Only a properly signed and witnessed written will controls what happens to property after someone dies. If she had a written will, the property will go to whomever the will instructs it should; without a will, if there was no surviving spouse when she passed away, it will go to her children. (A power of attorney has no power after someone dies; the POA ends when the person creating it passes away, so the brother has no power from the POA.)

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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