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.
Q: Once said parents are deceased, can a child decide not to be included in the will? (Baden, PA)
A: Parents are free to include whoever they wish in their will. Once a will is probated, an heir named in the will, can choose to file a document called a “Disclaimer” in the court where the will was filed. A Disclaimer will in effect, take the heir out of the estate. This should be done with advice of counsel as PA’s disclaimer rule requires that the disclaimed inheritance pass to the next of kin in accordance with the intestate succession statute of the PA Probate and Fiduciaries Code.
Q: I have been married only two years. I purchased this townhouse a year ago in my name only. She and I want to make sure she does not inherit it and the mortgage when I die.
A: You need to talk to an estate lawyer. If your spouse is not on the deed, nor on the mortgage, that is a good start. However, she could still inherit from your estate. To avoid this, you can disinherit her from your entire estate in your Last Will and Testament. You can also leave the home specifically to someone else in your will. As a spouse, if she is disinherited from the will, she can file an “election” against the will. If she has no interest in doing so, then it should accomplish what you want. It shouldn’t happen, but when someone inherits from an estate, and there is an unpaid mortgage, I have seen legal counsel for the mortgage company, sue the heir or heirs of the estate when the mortgage was not satisfied. I have had this happen even when the heirs filed a disclaimer against the estate. You should consult with an estate planning attorney and go over all the options. The only way to assure she will not inherit it is by leaving it to someone in your will. If you have no will, she may inherit all or a portion of it under state law. You may just need a will.