Briefcase

Probate: Post Harvey

Guest: Janet Heppard

In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, some families who want to file damage claims on properties still owned by deceased relatives are caught in the unfamiliar territory of probate court.  Janet Heppard is an expert in civil law and explains why it’s important to get assets transferred into the names of the living.

“Relatives living in houses, both titled to a deceased person and damaged by natural disasters, are not eligible for money or repairs from FEMA or insurance companies,” Professor Heppard said. “Although they live in the house, family members cannot ‘own’ a home that was never probated.”

Heppard said there are ways families can protect themselves. “Address these issues now, not at the time of a disaster,” she said. “Hire a lawyer to help you transfer title to real estate in a timely manner after a family member’s death, or make arrangements before a loved one dies, in order to avoid the need for probate all-together.”

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