Category Archives: Estate Law

Can I be evicted from heir’s property if I am an heir and have paid the taxes for 14 years?

Q: My 83 and 91-year-old aunts are trying to sell the land. Neither one has ever paid taxes on this property nor have they lived here since the 50’s. I inherited the mobile home on the property after caring for my 76-year-old dad who died in 07 I moved to care for him after my mother died in 04 when I became an heir. I am 66 years old, never delinquent on taxes for property or my inherited mortgage for this land. I paid taxes, my mother paid them before, my grandmother paid them since the ’50’s. I am a veteran and a retired CPS worker and suffer from PTSD and anxiety. Can my aunts evict me just because they are older heirs? On my retirement income I can’t afford to move, and my mobile home is bricked in. Thank you for any advice that you can give me. (Lucerne Mines, PA)

A: There is not enough information for me to answer this. I suggest you gather the deeds, wills and any other documents you can and see a lawyer. It will likely come down to who at this time owns the property. If your aunts are the only heirs, they own it and I don’t understand why you had been paying property tax on it. If you are an heir along with your aunts, you have options. In that case, the three of you will need to reach an agreement. If they want their money, you may be forced to buy them out. If they don’t want their money out of the land, perhaps they will agree to execute a new deed which has your share pass to their heirs after their death and give you a life estate to live on the property. If they are agreeable to letting you live there, and do not want money, you have some options.

I am the borrower on a vehicle loan but not the owner

Q: I am the borrower of a $21,000 Jeep loan. My ex-boyfriend passed away and he is the owner-he is on the title. Where does this leave me and how can I get paid back??  Am I able to trade in his vehicle if his mother or wife sign off on it? (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: If he is on the certificate of title to the Jeep, and you are on the bank loan, the Jeep is owned by his estate and will pass to the heirs in his will, or if no will, to his intestate heirs. It is not a good situation to be contractually bound to pay for something that you do not own. I would need to know what the facts were that led this arrangement-his bad credit and he was the principle driver? If you were the one paying for this for his benefit, hopefully the mother and wife will be agreeable and sign it over to you. If not, and they want to liquidate the vehicle, you may be able to file a claim against his estate if one is filed. I suggest a consultation with an attorney with whom you can share all the missing facts and documents.

Can IRA value be estimated on the PA-REV-1500 or need to be exact?

Q: Our father passed last June, and my brother is executor. My sister handled disbursing the IRA split 5 ways. The executor filled out the PA-REV 1500 inheritance tax form and put an estimate which was $260 under. Is that a red flag? Also does the executor need to have a separate bank account from which to pay the inheritance tax or can it be paid from his personal bank account? (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: The correct way to value assets on the PA inheritance tax return is to obtain the correct date of death value from the financial institution. When the PA Department of Revenue audits the return, it is possible that they will detect the difference and when they issue their Notice of Appraisement, they will require extra tax to be paid, if the asset is in fact undervalued. There is a bit of confusion as to what is going on here. Are there other estate assets? Is there a will and if so does it permit inheritance tax owed on non-probate assets to be paid from probate money? If this IRA is the only asset, inheritance tax can be paid by one heir, two heirs, or all heirs from their personal accounts. As long as it is paid, the DOR does not care by whom. I would pay for a consultation with an estate attorney to make sure you are doing this correctly and if it is determined that you are not, let the attorney handle this. You have potential income tax issues with any IRA. It may be beneficial to the heirs to pass the income tax on this IRA to the heirs to report on their individual income tax returns instead of accounting for income on the estate 1041 and paying the much higher tax rate.

Can we use inherited money as down payment to buy house from estate?

Q: My mom inherited a beach house in Avalon NJ with her 4 other siblings. She wants to keep the house, but they want to sell it. She doesn’t have the funds to buy out all 4 siblings, so to keep the house in the family I was looking to purchase the house, using her inheritance money that she would give to me from the house as a down payment. Can this work? (Murrysville, PA)

A: It would be up to the other 4 siblings to agree on a sales price that is fair to all. If you agree with that price, I do not see why this could not work if everyone wants it to. This happens from time to time during the administration of estates. One heir wants to buy the family home using their inheritance as part of the consideration. It can work.

Will I pay inheritance tax as a spouse?

Q: My husband, deceased Aug 2017, had some property in his name only, this property was purchased before we were married, and one piece was purchased after marriage, is this property taxed as inheritance tax for me (spouse). Is there anything taxable to me (spouse) as inheritance? I live in Allegheny County, in Pennsylvania. (Verona, PA)

A: If the property is in his name only and not in his name and yours, as husband and wife, it will pass to the heirs named in his will. If he has no will it will pass in accordance with the PA intestate succession statute. As applicable to spouses, the first 30K will pass to the spouse and the balance will be shared by the spouse (50%) and the children of both (50%). Spouses are subject to a PA inheritance tax rate of 0% and children, 4.5%. This means that if the house is worth 100K, 65K passes to the spouse but is taxed at 0% and the spouse will therefore pay no inheritance tax. 35K passes to the children and is taxed at a lineal rate of 4,5%. Permissible deductions may apply to further reduce tax liability. I suggest you meet with an attorney to prepare the inheritance tax return.

Am I responsible for my deceased mothers medical debt?

Q: Mom was in assisted living up in Michigan after she moved in with my sister. She incurred approximately $2300 in debt to Omnicare, the pharmaceutical company used by the facility. The debt started accruing in 2016 because Omnicare was not billing correctly. They also failed to notify the facility to which they kept delivering this supposedly uncovered medicine. Mom used the medicine for years and it was always covered, before and after Omnicare. I began working with Omnicare trying to resolve this issue as soon as I learned of the problem, but to no avail. Mom had two insurances for drug coverage – one through the State of Michigan and the other Medicaid. I just heard from Omnicare for the third time since mom passed in Feb 2018. This time, they asked if mom’s estate went to probate. I cannot remember if that was asked before, but there was no probate. What little money mom had at the time of her death was applied to her burial cost. She owned no property, no stocks or bonds or investments. She was on Medicaid. Before I speak with Omnicare again, I would like to know if I am correct – that I am not responsible for this debt. (West Homestead, PA)

A: It used to be that family members had no personal liability for the debts of a decedent, unless that family member signed the contract with the provider to guarantee payment. However, some states have passed “filial” law statutes which permit providers to recover against certain family members (children included) for medical debts of an indigent person. PA has a filial law statute. I do not recall Michigan having a filial responsibility law statute, but I would check with a Michigan attorney. Whatever you do, do not agree with Omnicare or anyone else to pay these debts.

Should I put utilities in my name?

Q: I lived with elderly mother all my life. All the utilities were in her name, but I paid the bills. She died 2 years ago. I still live in the house and still pay the bills. Shortly after her death I told the alarm company that she died, and they said there was no need to change anything because I had continued to pay the bill. But now I’m wondering if I should try to change the name on the utilities and how. (Sharpsburg, PA)

A: As you can see, the utility provider mainly cares about being paid, not who is paying. I know of no such law that mandates you change the name on these accounts. Perhaps someone else does. I would however change the name on the accounts. It will establish a credit history with the providers attributable to you as a payee. As far as real estate taxes go, you need to update who is living in the house. This is to avoid wrongly benefiting from any senior citizen’s discounts if you are not a senior citizen. I would also inform the property insurer as to her death and request the account to be switched into your name. For all you know there is a clause in the policy that negates coverage if your mother died or moved.

What if probate can’t find heirs to accept timeshare?

Q: If probate names beneficiary after beneficiary to accept a timeshare and each and one disclaims the timeshare, how deeply into the decedent’s, “family tree” will the probate continue to search for some remote relative? (White Oak, PA)

A: The Executor or Administrator has the duty to use due diligence in finding heirs. This will involve paying for a genealogical search. If no heirs are found or heirs are found, and the remaining heirs disclaim. The attorney will have to close the estate. the timeshare will lapse and eventually escheat to the PA Department of Revenue Unclaimed Property Division. Should an heir later come forward, they can apply for the unclaimed property by filing out a form and producing required paperwork.

Parents died, I opened an estate, what deed do I use?

Q: Parents bought a home in1972 and lived in it 22 years! Me, the oldest son was their caretaker. Parents died, and I probated filed. I have short certificates. What deed do I use to change names? There is a mortgage, I want to refinance.

A: A deed coming from an estate is normally a fiduciary deed. If there is a mortgagee, you need to notify the mortgagee to see if they approve of a new deed. Some mortgage agreements contain a due-on-sale clause which allows the mortgagee to foreclose if there is new deed filed. It may not be wise to change title on the home if you are going to sell it as there might be capital gain. You also have inheritance tax issues to address. The estate may have other creditors beside the mortgagee. You should be doing this through an attorney.

How do I get a copy grandmother’s will?

Q: I have personally seen my grandmother’s will. She had copies in her house. She had a stroke and my aunt moved her out of state to a nursing home in Tampa Florida. She has since passed away, two days after my mother (so no help getting info from her). I believe my Aunt maybe trying to hide the fact my grandmother had a will. I know her grandchildren were left a fair amount of money. My aunt is also POA. (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: You will need to hire a lawyer in FLA to investigate and possibly file a court action. Before you do that, you can call and check what the procedure in that county is to see if a will has been filed. They may have a website, or you may be able to get an answer on the telephone. If a will has not been filed and you truly believe there is one, the attorney can begin to request it in writing from your aunt and if unsuccessful, he can petition the court to order her to product it. Having an attorney involved will cost you money.