This is the next article in our series on Oklahoma inheritance laws and probate navigation.  In the last article, we discussed how an heir can retitle a vehicle in his or her name.  This article touches on the legal and financial responsibilities that come with inheriting a home in Oklahoma.  Trying to settle a loved one’s estate while grieving is emotionally challenging.  If you are going through this whirlwind, Niroula Law is here to assist you every step of the way.  We will give your case the attention it deserves and help navigate through the process.  Contact us online or via telephone to get in touch with an estate planning law firm and speak to a probate attorney.

Responsibilities of an heir: mortgage, insurance, and taxes

Property ownership comes with many privileges, but it is also burdened with various legal and financial responsibilities.  On one hand, inheriting a home makes you a homeowner, while on the other makes you liable for mortgage, insurance, and taxes.

Mortgage

The mortgage on a home does not go away when the owner dies, rather it stays with the property even after being passed down to an heir.  If you inherited a mortgaged home from a family member, then you are now responsible for making monthly payments.  Most lenders allow for a successor in interest (heir) to own the property as long as the payments are being made.  Some of them even give you an option to take over the loan by assuming the mortgage.  Regardless of the route taken, the mortgage is now your responsibility.  Failure to make the payment or effectively communicate with the lender may lead to foreclosure.  The same is applicable if the decedent took out a loan that is secured by the home.  In addition to the mortgage, you are also responsible for making the loan payment.

Insurance

Inheriting a home comes with the responsibility of maintaining proper insurance policies in case of a covered loss.  Mortgage lenders will require homeowner’s insurance to protect themselves from losses caused by events such as fire, tornado, etc.  In addition to the mortgage payments, you are on the hook for a homeowner’s insurance.  A home that is paid off and without a mortgage technically won’t require a homeowner’s policy.

Nonetheless, it’s a wise decision to get one in case there is a covered loss.  If you aren’t listed as an insured under the current policy, then an insurance company may require proof of your heirship, including a copy of the death certificate.  It’s imperative to contact the insurance company ASAP after inheritance to ensure that the policy is intact and there is no lapse in coverage.  Failure to do so may lead to policy cancellation.

Taxes

Inheriting a property does not immediately make you liable for taxes until you sell it.  When you do, you owe capital gains tax.  This is calculated based on the appreciation by subtracting the home’s value at the time of inheritance from the value at the time of the sale.  You then pay taxes only on the appreciated portion.

If you decide to keep the house as opposed to selling it, then you will owe property taxes.  It may already be rolled into the mortgage and included in the monthly payments.  Property taxes vary greatly based on property location.  It’s important to calculate the amount and keep the cost in mind before deciding whether to keep the house or sell it.  Failure to pay property taxes may ultimately lead to the sale of the house at a public auction.

There is no inheritance or estate tax in Oklahoma.  However, if the decedent dies with a large estate ($12.92 million in the tax year 2023), then federal estate taxes will be due.  If an Oklahoman dies with an estate valued above $12.92 million (also called the exemption amount), then the estate will be taxed on the assets exceeding the amount.

OKC estate planning and probate lawyer

Ensure your peace of mind by putting your affairs in order with our dedicated assistance.  We are an Oklahoma City-based law firm and have helped many Oklahomans with estate planning needs.  Whether your estate is modest or substantial, our legal team is committed to providing personalized legal solutions tailored to your unique circumstances.  Contact us online or by telephone to reach out to an estate planning law firm and speak to a probate lawyer.  Proudly serving Oklahoma, Cleveland, and Logan County.