Listener Question Not on the Deed

One listener wants to know what happens to the house if something happens to her spouse.  I’m Amy E. Feldman.

Listener Kelly S. wants to know what happens to her house if something happens to her husband if the deed is only in his name. Well, Kelly, that depends. As you probably know, if you’re on the deed as a joint tenant with the right of survivorship, then the house would automatically become yours. But if you’re not on the deed, then the house and all of his assets have to go through the probate process in court to assure that his debts are paid off before the beneficiaries get what’s left. 

Assuming he has a will, you could wind up with the house if you’re the named beneficiary, but if he dies without a will, or if the will was made before you were married, the law says what percent of his estate goes to you and what percent goes to his kids. So talk to him now to figure out the plan ahead of time so you can stay in your house if something happens to him.

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