Transferring a deed on death can be executed more efficiently in Wisconsin if the decedent left a will. With the presence of a will, a probate attorney and the executor of the will have powers to complete the deed transfer process more efficiently. If you are a named party in the will, but not the executor of the will, you can ask "next steps" questions from the executor and attorney regarding how the property will be handled. If you are the executor, use this authority to proceed with transferring the deed into your name efficiently and legally, under the consultation and guidance of a probate attorney if required. If there is no will, and the estate is in probate, you may need to hire an attorney to handle probate court proceedings and approvals.
Have the property appraised. This determines the subsequent steps. In Wisconsin, if the property is valued at $50,000 or less, you can qualify for what is called a “small estate.” This allows the executor of the will to transfer the deed to his name without having to go through probate-court proceedings that would result in legal fees, procedures and costs.
Discuss deed transfer needs with the estate executor and probate attorney, if needed. If family members and people named in a will are in agreement with deed transfer needs you might be able to avoid hiring a probate attorney and save the estate and beneficiaries from incurring legal expenses. If the property is appraised and valued at over $50,000 you will have to go through probate court proceedings to have the deed transferred. The family and named members on the will should hold a meeting amongst themselves, and with a probate attorney (if needed) to gain agreement among family members and the named executor to establish the name to be used for transferring the deed.
Obtain a copy of the deed. If you do not already have a copy, a deed is considered a matter of public record. A copy of the deed can be obtained from the Register of Deeds office for the county in which the property is located. It can be obtained by visiting the office in person or by applying for a copy online or by telephone. Fees vary by county. Copies of the deed also may be needed later to put the property on the market for sale or to apply for refinancing.
File an HT-110 form. This is the form for “Termination of Decedent’s Property Interest” with the Wisconsin Department of Commerce. This form and process are often referred to as TODD (Transfer of Deed on Death). Required filing documents include a copy of the decedent’s death certificate, a copy of the legal property description and a copy of the real estate tax bill for the year prior to the passing of the decedent. Apply for a formal "affidavit or transfer" once the deed has been transferred to the name of the estate executor or to a party approved in probate court. When this documentation is completed, the property is officially recorded and registered in the name of the party selected (estate executor or another family member, for example).
Assume ownership responsibilities. Once the deed is registered and recorded, those named are the new titleholder(s) if the property is paid for. The names on the title are responsible for property taxes and any associated fees or assessments. This may include things such as repairs and upgrades. Contact the county housing-authority agencies to be sure those named on the deed have been made aware of their responsibilities and financial obligations.
Work with those named in the estate on the will to obtain consensus and approval for plans regarding the property. Discuss the pros and cons of selling the property versus keeping it in the family.
You may not need a probate attorney if the value of the property is $50,000 or less. If family members can work together, you can avoid legal fees and time.
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