Q: My villa is about half paid off. My cousin is my next of kin and should get my home and bank account.
What happens to my home when I die?
A: If you want your cousin to get your home when you die, you should draw up a will that leaves it to him.
Your will should be properly drafted, signed, witnessed and notarized so that you do not leave a problem for your cousin instead of your villa. If you are unsure how to do this, you should consult an experienced professional for your options.
After you die, your cousin will need to go through the probate process with the assistance of an attorney. Once complete, your cousin will be the new owner of the villa.
Most mortgages contain language requiring any new owner to pay off the loan immediately, including when the new owner gets the home because of the death of a relative.
In my experience, most lenders will not force this as long as the payments are made on time, along with all of the other requirements, such as insurance and tax payments being handled. However, your lender could “call” the loan at any time, so your cousin should look to refinance the property in a loan in his name, especially while interest rates are still favorable.
Your cousin can also decide to sell your villa. As the new owner, he has all of the choices available to any property owner. He would list the property with an agent and proceed like any other sale.
Planning for your eventual demise can be a disturbing task, but make things much easier for your loved ones when they are dealing with your loss.
Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He practices real estate, business litigation and contract law from his office in Sunrise, Fla. Send him questions online at sunsentinel.com/askpro or follow him on Twitter @GarySingerLaw.