How do you determine heirship of a property when there was no Will?

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How do you determine heirship of a property when there was no Will?

Before my grandfather passed away, he signed a quitclaim deed with my aunt for his property. She passed away 5 years ago. My mother passed away too, so the only surviving family of my grandfather are his 4 grandchildren. Before my aunt died, she gave a friend verbal permission to live in the house for free. He has been there since she died. He did not buy the house but he does pay the taxes (the house is paid for). It is still in my grandfather’s name, according to public record. I am wondering if his grandchildren are the rightful heirs to the property? My grandfather did not have a Will.

Asked on August 17, 2011 Texas

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You have quite a bit going on here. So let's take it a step at a time.

First of all when your grandfather quitclaimed the house to your aunt, whether or not he had a Will when he died is irrelevant (and least insofar as the house is concerned). At that point it became your aunt's sole property.

Now, I will make 4 assumptions: your aunt died before your mother; she had no spouse/children; your mother was her only sibling; she died without a Will. The being the case, when she died her estate was inherited by your mother via "intestate succession". She then became the legal owner of the house.

As for your mother I will further assume that: she died without a Will; she had no spouse. Accordingly, upon her death her property would have gone by intestate succession to her children, equally. If there were 4 children then each child is entitled to 1/4 of the house.

At this point, you will need to speak with a real estate attorney. They can assist you in getting title out of your grandfather's name.

Note: As for the occupant now living in the home, you and your siblings can evict them. Under the circumstances since they are paying a form of rent (i.e. the real estate taxes) they will be considered under the law to be a tenant.


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