Estate Issues With DIY Deeds
Some estates involve property that has been titled or re-titled by a decedent who wrote their own property deed. Executors sometimes need to correct or manage invalid or improperly written property deeds. However, an executor may not make such amendments independently or by virtue of their authority as executor. Should an issue surface regarding real property titling during estate administration, the executor will likely need to resolve the matter in North Carolina probate court.
Oftentimes individuals and couples attempt to minimize estate planning costs by downloading do-it-yourself wills and property deed templates. DIY estate planning notoriously causes costly, time-demanding administrative burdens on executors
and does not guarantee the decedent’s wishes will be carried out.
While an individual might find writing their own deed offers more control, is simple, and bypasses the cost of an attorney, this approach comes with several risks. Relying entirely on titling to determine property transfers is a poor planning method. Reviewing property titles during routine planning sessions helps to identify issues, but managing those issues exclusively with titling measures is inadequate. An estate with DIY deeds might expose property to liens and lawsuits tied to parties on the deed, transfer property with unfavorable tax implications, or allow property interest to be claimed by unintended parties.
If an executor is administering an estate that includes an improperly executed deed written by the decedent, probate court actions will delay settling the estate and increase administration costs. The executor will need to make arrangements for extended management and maintenance for any property affected by the deed(s), as sales of the property will not be possible until resolution of the title issues.
Executors experiencing title problems during estate administration should review options with an attorney. Opportunities may be available that could reduce expenses for the estate and minimize the tax burden on estate beneficiaries. Without professional review, the executor could miss these opportunities. Schedule an estate review
with a North Carolina probate attorney. TrustCounsel’s senior attorney Greg Herman-Giddens is a Board Certified Specialist in Estate Planning and Probate Law. Before your meeting, learn more about property issues in probate: