If my Mom passed away about a month ago, what do I do about a TOD?

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If my Mom passed away about a month ago, what do I do about a TOD?

She and the bank own the house that both she and I resided in. I have a Transfer on Death Kit that was filed. There also was some life insurance only about $12,000 that my sister and I were beneficiaries 50/50. Beside the mortgage on the house, do we have any legal obligation to any other creditors and what should I do about the bills that are still being sent? Second, I haven’t done anything with the TOD to the house. I was told by the insurance agent that my name was already on the title to the house. Do I need to do anything with the TOD?

Asked on December 5, 2012 under Estate Planning, Florida

Answers:

Catherine Blackburn / Blackburn Law Firm

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

I don't know what you mean bay a "Transfer on Death Kit."  Transfer on Death usually applies to an investment account, sometimes to a bank account.  It is a form or series of forms that the owner fills out so that the assets transfer automatically after death to one or more beneficiaries.  TOD assets do not require an estate or probate.  They should be paid directly to the beneficiaries.

The life insurance will also be paid directly to you and your sister.  It will not go through your Mom's estate or require probate.  Her creditors are not entitled to it.

Do you have a copy of the deed to the house?  You need to see how the deed is written.  If your Mom and you are listed "as joint tenants with right of survivorship," then the house is yours.  You don't need to do anything to put the house in your name, although I would record a certified (official) copy of your Mom's death certificate.  So long as you keep paying the mortgage, the mortgage company probably won't care who owns the house.

In general, you and your sister have no obligation to pay your Mom's bills, except the mortgage.  If you don't pay the mortgage, the mortgage company will foreclose because the mortgage itself gives them the right to take the property back if you don't pay.  General bills (called "unsecured" debts) do not have those rights.  I suggest you keep all the bills in case you have to address them for some reason in the future. If the creditors call you, tell them your mother passed away.

If you have questions about your specific circumstances, you can contact a probate and estate lawyer. 


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