How Do I Make Sure My Wife Gets the House When I Die?

I am currently married but I purchased a home from my mother before my marriage. I added my younger sister to the deed at the time of purchase, so the house would remain in the family if something happened to me. I have been paying the mortgage and bills myself for three years now. However, now that I’m married to a great woman, who would get the house when I die?

Nj.com’s article “Will my wife get my house when I die?” explains that many of life’s transitions and big events, such as marriage, divorce, new job, birth or adoption of a child and others, are the triggers to address in your estate and financial plan.How Do I Make Sure My Wife Gets the House?

It’s not uncommon for a person’s decisions made before marriage as a bachelor, not to match up with a future with a new spouse.

As far as making certain that a house asses to the spouse, depends on how the house was titled at purchase. The titling of an asset can affect the way in which it would be transferred at death.  With real estate, most frequently, a person would have titled it either as Tenancy in Common (TIC) or Joint Tenancy with Rights of Survivorship (JTWROS).

If a person elects to go with JTWROS, then at his death, the house will avoid probate and pass entirely to the named joint tenant.  The law stipulates that the surviving joint tenant would be the full owner of the house, in which the man and his new wife had been living.

If you select to title as TIC, upon the man’s death, his half of the house would go to his estate. This doesn’t avoid probate. Therefore, the rights of the estate will be determined according to the decedent’s will unless the man had transferred his half of the property into his trust.

However, neither scenario is too great for the wife. This potentially leaves her in a stressful situation upon her husband’s death.

A wise approach is for the man to begin a dialog with the joint tenant  and an experienced estate planning attorney, who can help draft an agreement or help to change the titling of the house.

His will and beneficiaries should also be updated at the same time.

Another recommendation is to consider life insurance to provide for the wife after his death.

One of the main goals of our law practice is to help families like your plan for safe, problem free, and successful transfer of assets to the next generation.  Call our office today to schedule a time for us to review your estate plan and identify the best strategies for you and your family to ensure your legacy of love and financial security.  Our office is located in Santa Ana, CA but we serve all of California including Irvine, Orange, Tustin, Newport Beach, and Anaheim.

For more information and articles on estate planning, probate, trust law, and business planning, please visit our website and subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter.

Reference: nj.com (June 18, 2020) “Will my wife get my house when I die?”

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