What happens to a house when the owner dies and there are no heirs?

Occasionally, I have a case brought to my practice where a homeowner has died and had no known family members to whom the house should transfer.  In this case, there are a few different options for how to handle the future ownership of the house. If the homeowner created a trust before the death, and the house was properly transferred into the trust, then the successor trustee is responsible for making sure the mortgage payments are made out of other trust assets until such a time as the trustee is able to follow the terms of the trust as to the disposition of the property.  Typically, the trust will direct either who gets the house, or that all trust assets be sold and the proceeds distributed in percentages to individual people and/or a not-for-profit organization. If the home was owned in the owner’s name individually, then a probate estate must be opened in order to transfer ownership of the house.  The probate case must be opened with the county…

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