My dad owned a house in his name alone. When dad died, my brother started living there and maintaining the place. Now an injury has occurred at the property because of some maintenance my brother had let slide. We are afraid the woman injured is going to sue. Can she sue my brother? Or put a lien on the property if she wins? Or maybe make a claim against the estate? It has been more than two years since my father died.
The short answer is that the injured person may sue the owner, or whomever is responsible for managing and maintaining the property. I would think that she might proceed against your brother, who, if insured, might be able to turn the claim over to the insurance company. If no estate has been opened, the woman can likely petition to open the estate as a creditor and potentially force the home to be sold to pay any judgment. However, even if your brother continued to pay the homeowners insurance, the insurance company might take the position that the policy is void if they didn’t actually have knowledge that they were covering an estate property. Title to the house would not be able to be transferred or sold unless an estate was opened that could pass good title. Absent a deed, a Will by itself cannot pass clear title to property. On top of all these issues, if you have an unregistered rental property in certain areas (for example in Baltimore City lead paint certificates), there are other headaches that could arise. Comment: It may be worthwhile to contact an attorney on this one (cheap plug). As always, if you have questions or would like to know more please contact Steven E. Shane, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 301.575.0313. Steve provides strategic counseling to clients in need of estate administration, charitable giving and business continuity planning while minimizing estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer tax exposure. He offers legal guidance to clients on asset protection and the proper disposition of assets in accordance with the client’s objectives, while employing tax planning techniques such as the use of irrevocable trusts, life insurance planning, lifetime gifts and charitable trust. He is also experienced with drafting documents for business planning, the incorporation and application for exemption for Private Foundations and the administration of decedents’ estates. You can also connect with Offit Kurman via Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, and LinkedIn.