In short, you probably will not receive a new deed. Under North Carolina law, ownership of real property passes to heirs or devisees as of the date of a decedent’s death, unless it needs to be sold to pay estate claims. This means that unless the Administrator or Executor of the estate of the person who passed needs to sell the property to pay claims, the heirs or devisees own the property immediately. So, in most cases, if you have inherited property in North Carolina there is no need for a new deed. 

One question real property attorneys get frequently is how to show ownership if there is no new deed. Ownership of the property can be shown by a copy of the death certificate combined with the will, if there is one, or by the estate file for the decedent, if there is no will. These documents can be obtained from the County Clerk of Court and from the Register of Deeds, and can be used to change over insurance policies and update tax records.  

Another frequent question is how to remove a deceased spouse’s name from the deed. In most cases, this is not necessary. If the property was owned as tenants by the entirety (as husband and wife), that property automatically becomes yours and a copy of the previous deed and your spouse’s death certificate will suffice to show ownership. 

It is important to remember that if the property has a mobile home on it and the home has not been made real property and the title canceled with DMV, then the title to that asset will need to be changed over in the new name. This must happen, even if there is no new deed for the property on which the home sits. This is a process that can be completed as part of the decedent’s estate. 

The easiest way to make sure that inheritance and transfer of property after death goes as smoothly as possible is to have a will to direct who ends up with your property. If you have questions about inheritance or need help making a will, be sure to contact an attorney.   

Published by Emily Price on March 17, 2017