Q. My father died and the only asset is his house.
Do I have to file a proceeding in surrogate's court to have it turned over to my siblings and to me?
Not necessarily. By operation of law, real property vests in the estate’s distributees at time of death. (Distributees are the persons entitled to share in an estate if there is no valid will.) If your father died intestate (without a will) and was not survived by a spouse, the property is owned by you and your siblings (as well as the children of any predeceased siblings) as of the time of his death. You should contact the appropriate tax office to see what the requirements are to list you as owners. You may also wish to consult a real estate attorney to prepare a deed to make the title to the property "cleaner." If your father died testate (with a will), the property would be passed on in accordance with the terms of the will and a probate proceeding may be necessary.