From a425couple@21:1/5 to All on Sun Feb 4 06:40:54 2018
Will I automatically inherit my husband’s house?
Published: Sept 23, 2017 8:13 a.m. ET
This wife happens upon another reason for smart estate planning
PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR
When I married my husband, my children and I moved into a home that he
already owned outright. In the event that he should die before me, am I entitled to the home, or must we do a “quit claim” to put me on the deed
or make a will for this to happen? He doesn’t seem to think that
anything needs to be done. Since we are married he feels that anything
he owns including his bank accounts will automatically be mine.
Is this true?
Erica, Marion County, Fla.
It’s (slightly) more complicated than that.
It all depends on whether your husband has children, too. If he has
children and dies without a will and only his name is on the deed of the
house, you will receive “life estate” — that is, you will have the right to live in the home for the rest of your life and, after you pass away,
your husband’s children would inherit the property. With a life estate, however, you would not be able to sell the home if it became too
expensive to maintain.
If he has children, you are correct that something needs to be done. A
“quit claim” would add you to the deed of the home and would ensure that you would inherit the property. Similarly, your husband could make you a beneficiary of the marital home (given that he owns it outright). “This
area is ripe for litigation,” says Brandon Bellew, a lawyer in
Clearwater, Fla. “It’s very tricky.” (Your children would not have any inheritance rights.)
Read: My brother is pressuring our mother to sign over her house
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There are all sorts of shenanigans that involve family members and
wills. The Moneyologist has juggled quite a few of these in recent
months. Recently, one letter-writer said her sister put her name on the
bank account of their father and walked away with $100,000, even though
she was sure her father wanted to split his estate evenly. It was a sad
story. Why did this happen? There was no will. You have children, so you
should make a will, too.
Don’t miss: My mother excluded her late husband’s grandchildren from her will
So you are right to have this conversation now, especially about such a
complex topic. This graph — “Kelley’s Homestead Paradigm” — is well-known among estate lawyers and shows all the different scenarios
and outcomes for the marital home in the event that one spouse dies. Too
many times, a surviving wife is left in the dark when it comes to
finances and is left grappling with savings accounts (which she may not
even have known exist).
Sorting these issues out now will bring you peace of mind and prevent
any unnecessary stress should your husband pre-decease you.
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