How do you determine heirship of a property when there was no Will?

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How do you determine heirship of a property when there was no Will?

Before my grandfather passed away, he signed a quitclaim deed with my aunt for his property. She passed away 5 years ago. My mother passed away too, so the only surviving family of my grandfather are his 4 grandchildren. Before my aunt died, she gave a friend verbal permission to live in the house for free. He has been there since she died. He did not buy the house but he does pay the taxes (the house is paid for). It is still in my grandfather’s name, according to public record. I am wondering if his grandchildren are the rightful heirs to the property? My grandfather did not have a Will.

Asked on August 17, 2011 Texas


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

You have quite a bit going on here. So let's take it a step at a time.

First of all when your grandfather quitclaimed the house to your aunt, whether or not he had a Will when he died is irrelevant (and least insofar as the house is concerned). At that point it became your aunt's sole property.

Now, I will make 4 assumptions: your aunt died before your mother; she had no spouse/children; your mother was her only sibling; she died without a Will. The being the case, when she died her estate was inherited by your mother via "intestate succession". She then became the legal owner of the house.

As for your mother I will further assume that: she died without a Will; she had no spouse. Accordingly, upon her death her property would have gone by intestate succession to her children, equally. If there were 4 children then each child is entitled to 1/4 of the house.

At this point, you will need to speak with a real estate attorney. They can assist you in getting title out of your grandfather's name.

Note: As for the occupant now living in the home, you and your siblings can evict them. Under the circumstances since they are paying a form of rent (i.e. the real estate taxes) they will be considered under the law to be a tenant.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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