Probate…What happens to house at Death when owners were divorced?

Additional Information:

Dad died without a will. He and our mother are both on the deed to the house, he continued to live in and were divorced a few years ago. What will happen to the house, will it go to her automatically? And would we have to go into probate? (not really sure what that means)

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

You should first review the divorce decree. If the decree awards the property to your father, he owned it in his own name at the time of his death and the house will have to be probated. If the decree awarded it equally between your parents, the divorce would have broken the joint tenancy into tenant in common interest and half of the house would have to be probated. Both of your parents should have been provided with a copy of the decree.

When a person dies with property in his own name without a will, the property passes through the state’s intestate succession laws. I am assuming that your father died a resident of Massachusetts. As your father died a single person, your mother would not inherit property under that statute. You should consult an estate and probate attorney familiar with the laws of your father’s domicile. You should provide the attorney with a copy of the divorce decree.

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Trust agreement

Additional Information:

There are 3 equal beneficiaries to the trust.  One of the beneficiaries is wanting to sell and the other 2 do not want to.  At any point can the house be sold or rented without all 3 in agreement?  Thank you.

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

In order to ascertain what the beneficiaries’ rights are under the trust agreement, you must first look at the trust agreement. Typically, the beneficiaries cannot demand from the Trustee that the trust assets are to be sold. The grantor of the trust would have to have been written into the trust document.

The terms of the trust govern all aspects on the ownership of the property. If the terms of the trust are unclear, you can petition a court for instructions, but that is a costly and time comsuming process. You may wish to consult with a trust attorney in your area.

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Is it time to talk finances with your parents?

One day you may find yourself taking care of an elderly parent who is in declining physical or mental health. This can be stressful, both emotionally and financially. On the financial side, there are steps you may want to take to prepare for this situation.

 Talk to your parents about their financial affairs. Parents may be reluctant to discuss their finances, but someone needs to know the names of their lawyer and accountant. Someone needs to know where their important financial papers are located. Chances are that much of the information will be in your parents’ heads, or scattered in various places around their house. [Read more…]

Filing threshold raised for nonprofit organizations

Tax-exempt organizations are required to file annual reports with the IRS. Those with gross receipts below a certain threshold amount can file an E-postcard rather than a longer version of Form 990. The IRS has just raised that threshold amount to $50,000, an increase over the previous filing threshold of $25,000.

 The deadline for nonprofit filings is the 15th day of the fifth month after the organization’s year-end. For calendar-year organizations, the filing deadline for 2010 reports is May 16, 2011.

More options for tax refunds this year

Last year, you could use your tax refund to purchase U.S. Series I Savings Bonds in your name. This year, there are some new options for purchasing savings bonds with your income tax refund. You can buy savings bonds for yourself and up to two other individuals. Form 8888 is used to designate the person or persons in whose name the bonds are to be issued. The savings bonds will then be mailed to those individuals.

 Up to $5,000 in bonds can be purchased in $50 increments. Also new this year: You may request a paper check for the balance of your refund if you prefer that to direct deposit.

IRS changes the April 15 filing deadline

This year the deadline for filing various tax returns normally due on April 15 is being changed to April 18, 2011. The reason? Washington, D.C. is observing its Emancipation Day holiday on Friday, April 15, and though that’s not a national holiday, the Treasury Department has extended Tax Day 2011 to Monday, April 18. The new deadline applies to individual and partnership tax returns, extension requests, and other tax deadlines such as making 2010 IRA and education savings account contributions and making the first 2011 estimated tax payment.