When writing a will, it's human nature to focus mostly on bequeathing major assets to beneficiaries. Unless smaller assets, such as furniture, have some sentimental value, testators often neglect to mention each item by name. They belong to the estate all the same, and the will's executor must deal with them. Just because you inherit a home and the deed transfers title to you through probate, it doesn't necessarily follow that everything in the home goes to you as well.
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Everything the deceased owned falls into one of two categories during probate. It is either real property or personal property. Real property is real estate and personal property is everything else, including furniture. Early in the probate process, the executor must itemise all property the deceased owned, including personal property, and submit a list to probate court. If the deceased bequeathed any item specifically to one individual, such as a grandfather clock or an antique rocking chair, the executor will probably turn it over to that beneficiary early in the probate process. By the time you take possession of the home, these items will most likely be gone.
Sale of Furniture
The executor might take furniture not directly bequeathed to an heir into his own custody during the probate process. He's responsible for it, so he may move it into storage or place it with an appraiser or an estate sale company to ensure no harm comes to it. If the estate ends up owing more debts and taxes than it has cash available to pay out, the executor is within his rights to sell off items of personal property, such as furniture, to meet the shortfall.
If the executor does not remove the furniture from the home before you take possession, move it to a safe location, such as a garage or one room of the house. At the end of the probate process, after all the costs of the estate, debts and taxes are paid, the furniture still belongs to the estate and is available to the beneficiaries as a group. Generally, heirs will pick and choose what they want. If there's a dispute over a particular item, the executor will resolve it. If she can't resolve it, she might submit the issue to a mediator to work out a compromise between the beneficiaries, or to the probate judge to make a final decision.
After resolving disputes and all heirs take the furniture they want, you might still have some pieces left over. When the executor is in the process of finalising probate, ask him if you can dispose of it if you don't want it. The executor will most likely have addressed the issue of it before this point by making arrangements to give it to a charity or some needy individual or institution. Transferring deeds to real estate usually happens at the end of the probate process. By the time you receive the deed, all issues of property will likely no longer be an issue. You would probably only have to deal with the furniture if you move in before title transfers to you and you receive the deed.
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