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[Comments] (2) Estate: Okay, here's a tip: don't die. And if you must die, make sure you've got somebody else on the title for your car and house when you do. I was on my mother's mortgage but around 2005 she refinanced and my name got taken off. Big mistake.

If someone else's name is on the title, then after you die they have to go around and show people the death certificate and fill out some paperwork. If not, they have to go through probate. My mother had a simple and uncontested will, but to get the title to the house we had to go to court to prove that the will was valid and said what it said it said.

This took approximately forever. Meanwhile we were paying the mortgage on a house nobody was living in, watching buyer after buyer bail on us while the court and the lawyers dragged their feet. Eventually we were also watching the housing market collapse and hoping we'd be able to sell the house for enough to pay off our expenses.

Fortunately, the story has a happy ending, in the sense that a fiasco is happier than a catastrophe. We finally got the title, we finally sold the house, and though we sold it for a price that's really disappointing given the amount of work my mother put into her house, it was enough to pay our expenses and give us each a small inheritance. I deposited the check today, so now I feel I can write about this.

Please, I'm asking you to keep this in mind. Talk to your parents or spouse or children or whoever and make sure this doesn't happen to your family. Maybe it doesn't apply to you now but it will someday. Also, don't mail things you inherited through the doubly-damned US Postal Service.


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