What is a House Inheritance?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 22 January 2020
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A house inheritance is a situation in which an owner makes provisions in a last will and testament to bequeath a residence to an heir, once the homeowner has passed away. Depending on the laws regarding the inheritance of property in the area where the house is located, the heir may also assume certain obligations to the property, including paying off an existing mortgage or settling inheritance taxes before or shortly after taking possession of the real estate. The issues of how to claim an inheritance and what to do with a house inheritance once the will is probated often require the help of a legal professional to resolve and allow the heir to begin enjoying his or her new status as a homeowner.

One of the first tasks involved with a house inheritance is confirming that the intended heir is willing to accept the inheritance. There are a number of reasons why the heir may be reluctant to do so. If there is concern that accepting the property will create tensions within a family, the heir may choose to request that the property be sold and the funds divided among various members of the family. At other times, the financial burden of property inheritance taxes or even basic upkeep of the property may discourage the heir from claiming the inheritance.


Once the heir chooses to accept a house inheritance, there is the need to comply with local regulations regarding taking possession of the property. This may involve the assessment of inheritance taxes that must be paid within a given amount of time. In some jurisdictions around the world, the heir must appear before a judge and formally accept the property. More commonly, the heir has only to sign legal documents affirming his or her acknowledgement and acceptance of the inheritance, usually in the presence of the executor or administrator of the estate and other witnesses as required by law.

While a house inheritance is often viewed as an economic benefit, the condition of the property may in fact create a drain on the other assets of the heir. This is particularly true if the property is in significant need of repair, or if the outstanding balance of a mortgage did not automatically settle at the time of the owner’s death. When situations of this type exist, the heir may choose to begin efforts to sell the property and settle any debt connected with the house rather than retain possession of the asset.


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