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Consequences of Quit Claim Deed from my mother's Estate to my husband and myself? How to protect my interests?

Seattle, WA |

Mother died widowed, I am sole beneficiary. Finished probate (King County, WA). House paid off. Would like to have house in husband's name (listed first for senior tax reduction) and my own second. Any consequences I should consider? How to protect my own interests, such as Life Estate perhaps? Have Quit Claim Deed form and Real Estate Tax Affidavit form, but scared to complete!

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This isn't self-help law. You also have to deal with the real estate excise tax. There is one exemption, when the property is transferred from the estate to the next party, but this is complicated stuff and you could accidentally get the wrong information if there are omitted facts. Richard Wills is very, very good at probate; you should look at his website or give him a call.

WA is a community property state. One of the three exemptions from community property presumptions is property passing to a spouse by bequest. The presumption is it is your separate property. My big worry is that if the estate quit-claimed the property to you, and you are quit-claiming it to your spouse for whatever reason, the State could decide that this is a taxable event. Please, please take all your documents to a probate attorney for review.

Elizabeth Powell

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In response to Ms. Powell and Mr. Tomberg below: I did the probate on my own using Mr. Wills' site. It went smoothly and I am in the process of "administration" although as the sole heir and PR, I can kind of take my time about some things. I will read Mr. Wills' site again, but I think I will just get the house transferred to my name (the heir) via Quit Claim (from the Estate of) and fill out the Excise Tax form on my own. Can't claim senior real estate tax exemption for 2012 anyway. Can't afford a "real" lawyer, so I must try by myself. Legal Shield will go over the filled forms for me, but they also neglected to tell me about consequences and protecting my own claim. Just FYI, the only debt my mom had was a credit card for less than $800 - maybe IRS since she paid estimated taxes. Thank you both for your warnings! Any more advice is very welcome, of course!

Elizabeth Rankin Powell

Elizabeth Rankin Powell


The transfer from the estate to the heir (you) is not a taxable event. And please consult Mr. Wills before paying your mom's Visa bill. Ditto re taxes. It cannot cost that much for a half hour of his time! I'm glad this was helpful for you - E Powell


you need to consult with the attorney handling the estate as to the manner in transferring the deed. ordinarily the estate will be required to deed the property to you as beneficiary. reasoning first that you and not your husband is beneficiary and second that you may be entitled to homestead exemption protecting the property from any creditors claims. further by consulting him you will find that you may have questions answered you didnt ask answered for you. if you dont have a lawyer handling the probate then by all means retain a lawyer to answer your questions.

without a detailed review by a lawyer can all the issues raised in your question be appropriately addressed...nothing in this response should be construed as establishing a lawyer client relationship..the answers herein are for informational purposes and not to be construed as advice


If you are afraid to touch the paperwork, that is an indication that you are in over your head. Heed the advice given and consult a probate/real estate lawyer. You could pay more for anxiety prescriptions for this than you would spend for 1-2 hours with a lawyer.

DISCLAIMER: The forgoing comment is for general educational purposes only, and is not legal advice upon which the reader may rely as the commenter has no actual knowledge of the facts of the case, has not interviewed persons or examined evidence, and has not researched the applicable law. The comment is based only on the facts provided, which are extremely limited, and may or may not be true. Complete defenses may prevent the success of any claim. Competent legal advice should always be obtained before taking any legal action or filing suit. Readers employ any information provided herein at their own risk.


Real estate title is nothing to trifle with. I work in title every day, and routinely see title problems caused by well meaning 'self help' individuals.
Contact an attorney with real estate title experience. If it is only a simple matter, the cost will be minimal, and there will be someone to take responsibility for any mistakes. Trying to cure the title that a person has screwed up costs thousands.
It is an extreme example, but I am working on a title now where the parties did their own deed in 1987, and probably saved themselves a hundred dollars. There was a typo leaving out two letters in the legal description. Now 25 years later we are going to spend in excess of $10,000 curing the title so that the property can be marketed. Had to attempt to locate 3 generations of heirs, and bring civil suit to quiet title.

Be sure to ask about tax consequences - current and deferred - when deeding any property.

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