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How Can You Distribute Real Estate in Your Will? September 23, 2019

Granville, Licking
How Can You Distribute Real Estate in Your Will?, Granville, Ohio

One of the biggest concerns for people when they make out their wills is how their real estate will be distributed upon their passing. There are specific restrictions in place under estate law that determine how real estate is to be dealt with after the property owner passes away. This applies to real estate that may be owned by a single individual as well as determining how real estate owned jointly will be dealt with after one owner passes.

How Does Sole Ownership Affect the Distribution of Real Estate?

When speaking of real estate, sole ownership means that one person owns the property to be distributed. This means there isn’t another person who holds an interest in the property, and there are no liens against it. If there is a stipulation requiring the property to be transferred to another person or entity upon the title holder’s passing, the property is not held under sole ownership for the purposes of probate law.

If you are the sole owner of the property, you can distribute it however you choose. If you leave it to an heir in your will, the property may have to be sold to pay off creditors and final taxes. In that case, the remaining sum will be distributed to the heirs named in the will after the probate process is completed. However, you may choose to distribute the property via a living trust, which does not go through the probate process. In that case, the trustee will distribute the property according to the terms of the living trust.

How Is the Joint Ownership of Real Estate Affected by Estate Law? 

Estate LawAlso known as community property, joint ownership mostly deals with property that’s co-owned by a husband and wife. Under these circumstances, one spouse may choose to leave their share to another individual. For instance, a spouse may choose to leave their share to a child from a previous marriage. If neither spouse designates a third-party beneficiary, the surviving spouse will be granted full ownership of the property under Ohio estate law.

There are some states that add a right of survivorship to their probate laws. In these states, which include Arizona, California, and Nevada, real estate will automatically pass to the surviving spouse regardless of the will. Once the surviving spouse dies, the terms of that individual’s estate plans will be carried out.


Ohio estate law is complex and requires the expertise of an attorney. The legal team at Morrow, Gordon & Byrd, Ltd. have been meeting estate planning needs for their New Albany and Westerville clients for more than 80 years. You can familiarize yourself with their attorneys by visiting the firm’s website, or you can make an appointment by calling (740) 345-9611.

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