If you inherit real property by reason of the loss of a parent who owns real property at their death, it may take a few weeks or more than a year to transfer the title of the real estate into your name.
There are a number of ways that you could actually have the title of real estate transferred into your name. First, if your parent(s) held title in a Trust, then the Successor Trustee can create a Deed that transfers title out of the name of the Trust and the Deed is recorded and title is then in your name. As a surviving child, you will retain the property tax basis of your parent pursuant to Proposition 58 and a "Change of Ownership Statement Death of Real Property Owner" and "Claim for Reassessment Exclusion for Transfer Between Parent and Child" will need to be submitted at the time the Deed is presented to the County Recorder.
Second, if your parent does not have title of the real property in a Trust when he/she/they pass away, and the title is in their name, then the real property (unless it is valued under $100,000) will have to be part of a Probate proceeding. The Will of the decedent is filed with the Court and a Petition for Probate is filed wherein a person or entity such as a bank will be appointed as Executor. The Executor will administer the estate, and after all creditor claims and fees of administration are paid, then the Executor will record a certified copy of the Order for Final Distribution from the Court that transfers the real property into your name as the beneficiary. You still qualify for the property tax exemption.
Third, if your parent dies without a Trust or a Will and they own real estate in their name valued in excess of $100,000, then the same process of Probate as in the above paragraph occurs except the person or entity appointed by the court is called an Administrator. The time for Probate to run its course may last more than a year should there be issues that are not resolved early in the process.
Fourth, your parent may have put your name on title to their real property during their lifetime as a Joint Tenant. In that event, no probate will be necessary and title to you will pass by operation of law. You will need to record an Affidavit of Joint Tenant to clear title however.
There are other ways of holding title with a parent such as Tenants in Common, which if that were to be the case, then again a Probate as to the parent's interest will be required to place full title into your name.
Your parent may have also created a Qualified Personal Residence Trust which transfers the title to you during the lifetime of your parent, but which does not take effect for a specified period of time.
The above are intended to assist you in considering whether specific estate planning or other means of holding title would be the best circumstances for your parent(s) during their lifetime or what will occur after their death.
If you would like additional information, please contact me, David H. Schulman, Esq, at (714) 871-8600. My office address is 1457 E. Chapman Avenue, Fullerton, CA 92831.
For more information regarding the sale of a home please contact Ron Holborn at (714) 469-8198.