Nov 10, 2010
Dear Liza: My dear friend recently died. He left his house to his mother, who lives far away. How soon can I transfer the house to her? I am eager to get this done as soon as possible because until then the trust has to pay the mortgage. So, you have to wait until the survivorship period is over before you can distribute any property to anyone. This will be in the trust--it is usually thirty (30) days, but can be longer. A person has to survive at least that long after there's been a death to inherit anything. This is to prevent property going to someone, and then having them die and leave the property to someone else entirely. You can transfer the house the day after that period ends. But settling an estate takes time. Please don't distribute anything until you're sure you know what the bills and debts there are to pay off and whether there will be income taxes due for the last year of your friend's life. Beneficiaries are often in a big hurry to inherit, but prudent trustees take their time and let beneficiaries know that debts and bills come first.