If the owner of a house passes away, will the ownership of the house automatically be transferred to their children?

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If the owner of a house passes away, will the ownership of the house automatically be transferred to their children?

Or does this need to be stated in a Will?

Asked on September 27, 2012 under Estate Planning, Virginia

Answers:

Catherine Blackburn / Blackburn Law Firm

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Who inherits the house depends in part on how the deed is written.  If an individual owner is listed on the deed with no one else, title to the house must pass through the owner's probate estate.  If the owner left a will, title to the house will be transferred according to the terms of the Will.  If the owner left no will, title to the house will be transferred according to the state law of intestacy (the statute of descent and distribution).

The individual state statutes of descent and distribution differ a little bit.  In Florida, a homestead passes according to the Florida constitution to the spouse for life and then to children.  If there is no spouse or minor children, the homestead passes according to the will or statute.  If there is no will and no spouse, it will pass to the children.

I would expect most state statutes to be similar -- if the owner had no will and no wife, the house will probably pass to the children.  However, a probate estate will be required.  I suggest the children consult a local probate or estate attorney.


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