Attorney Thomas B. Burton answers the following question: "How Do I get Dad's House Titled in My Name When He Died in 1988 and I Have Paid Taxes Ever Since?" Attorney Burton answers this person's question about how to get his dad's house title into the viewer's name in this unique situation under Wisconsin law.
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Hello, I am Attorney Thomas Burton. I am an Estate Planning and Asset Protection Attorney, here in Wisconsin and today's question is the following –
"How do I get dad's house titled in my name when he died in 1988 and I have lived there ever since and taxes take care of".
Okay, it says, "Dad had no will and I have been living there, paying taxes that come in his name in care of me." Oh I see, up at the top here, it got cut off, his question. "So paying the taxes that come in his name in care of me. My brothers and I split everything and I got the house and never got the deed changed. Now I am older and need to get it in my name."
So this question surprised me a little when I read it because it says the father died in 1988 and sometimes I have clients come in and tell me, a parent died a couple of years ago, usually within the last 5 years or 3 years or 2 years and they haven't gone through the probate to get the property retitled but I am honestly surprised that you have been able to live in the house without your name on the deed since 1988. But I understand and this is what I tell clients in my Estate Planning practice, the tax authority just wants to get paid. They don't really care who pays the taxes. So if you have been paying the taxes, it is possible that nothing else came up that you have been able to do this, I mean it sounds like you have, since that time. I don't know how you have been handling the insurance and the other things like that.
But in general, what I would say is you want to get the property titled in your name because right now, you are paying taxes on real estate you don't own. From the facts of your question here, it says, "My brother and I split everything and I got the house but never got the deed changed", so I am not sure what that means. If you have started a probate action for your father or if you have just sort of informally said with your brothers that you are keeping the house and they took other possessions. But I think, you are going to need to work with a probate attorney to get the title, the actual deed to the home, retitled into your name.
And the facts of how to do this, are going to depend on if your Dad died with a will or no will and what the value of the house is. If there was a probate when he died, then the house should have been retitled into your name before the probate was closed. So, that's why I am a little confused about this. However, if you have inherited the house via deed, then perhaps your father was still on the deed with you, like, with the estate or something, there's a way we could remove his name from the deed using a death certificate through the Registrar of Deed's Office without a full probate. So again, talk to a local probate attorney who can help you because there's a couple of different ways to go about this and at my office, I always look at the most cost-effective option first.
So when you go meet with that attorney, take a copy of the deed you have. Any deed to the property that shows whose names are on it now and I would also take a death certificate with you. And if there was a probate, back when your Dad died, take any paper work along with you that you have, related to that. And then, just lay out the same question with them and ask them for your best options now to get the property fully into your name. And I am just telling you what documents to bring because this is what I would ask to look at and it will help in your meeting with the attorney and save time and money for both of you, if you can just bring as much along as possible. And then go through it with them and like I said, they should be able to lay out the options and there's 2 or 3 that come to my mind. I kind of laid them out for you here. So best of luck with that.
Great question and thank you for asking.
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