My father didn't leave a will, and I live in his house. My brother wants to divide it. Can I make it solely mine?

3 answers | Last updated: May 26, 2017
Prahlad asked...

My father died without making a will. I am living in the house and have been for twenty years or more, and my brother lives in a different city in his own house. After my father's death, my brother wanted to divide the house. Is there any way I can secure that the house can remain mine?

Expert Answers

Barbara Repa, a senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

Because your father died without a will—or “intestate” in legal jargon—his property will be divided up and distributed according to the formula set out in state law. These state formulas specify that the property goes to those most closely related to the person who has died. If you and your brother are the two survivors most closely related, the law likely specifies that your father’s property—including the house—should be divided equally between the two of you.

This may not seem right to you, since you have been living in that house for so long now that it likely feels like your own, but the law operates with blinders—and treats you both equally.

If it is most important to you that you remain in the home, you may be able to negotiate an arrangement with your brother—perhaps to buy out his share in a lump or over time. Or perhaps your father owned other property—and you and brother could agree to a way to divide them fairly and in a way that might let you remain in the home or own it outright.

To begin the process of transferring legal ownership of your father’s home and any other property, you or your brother should contact the local probate court for the best next steps to take. Where there is not a lot of property at stake, survivors can often use a simplified procedure to wind up an estate, which they can usually handle on their own, without hiring a lawyer for help.

Community Answers

Adjunct prof.rosellfernandez answered...

Why should you make it solely yours? Greed.

Geo2015 answered...

Miss Repa is right, as usual… 99% of all co-heirs co-inheriting a home in an estate with no will, I assume going through probate, will want you to buy out their shares in the property. Maybe of you were the primary care-giver to your dad, that might swing some weight with the probate court. But if you are going through probate, you might want to hire a very, very experienced estate attorney, if you can, to perhaps come up with some ideas for you, to get that property for yourself.

But it’s going to be tough. Miss Repa is correct, it’s nearly always viewed as a shared property, 50% –50%... Unless there are mitigating factors that will swing it all your way (which is where an extremely experienced estate lawyer comes in). But let’s face it, realistically – your brother is going to want to own half of that house, or be bought out. Unless of course you both decide to bite the bullet and simply sell it off at a decent price, if you can. But it sounds like you would prefer to reside in the house.

At least if you go though probate, as the estate is intestate, the very fact that you are going through the probate process will enable you to apply for a loan on inheritance, if you end up deciding to sell the house… then you can apply to borrow money against inheritance – which is what many heirs of estates in probate do when they inherit real estate, or liquid assets – they research online for probate loans, inheritance loans, estate loans, and/or probate advance, estate advance, and inheritance advance assignments.

It’s amazing how many heirs inheriting real estate decide to get a loan on inheritance, to get as large an inheritance cash advance, or probate cash advance, as they can – and go online like super researcher, to investigate estate loans, probate loans, probate advances, inheritance loans, trust fund cash advances, or trust fund loans from one of the more well known inheritance cash advance companies, probate loan companies — and, with a sort of frenzied approach, submit inheritance cash advance, probate advance and probate loan applications to numerous online probate loan and trust fund loan companies that provide loans on inheritance, inheritance loan advances, like, or or similar niche, established inheritance advance companies like Inheritance cash advance or probate loans specialists that all provide very similar inheritance advance and probate loans services.

So when you do get approved, and if the inheritance advance or probate loan provides enough inheritance money – you may be able to simply go ahead and use the probate advance, estate loan or loan on inheritance to purchase another property to live in. Or at least have an ample down payment. That would solve the living arrangement anyway, and you’d be using the house your dad left you as means to an end…