Am I the sole owner of the house after their death? 31 Answers as of June 26, 2013

Parent’s home was held in a trust and I am a joint tenant outside of the trust. I am also the trustee and executor of the estate. I have siblings, who are not on the grant deed, that are in the will, wanted to sell the house and split up the proceeds now. I want to rent it out for now and wait until the market comes back to sell. Is the property solely mine, because I am the surviving joint tenant or do they have a portion of ownership through the will which states that all siblings have equal shares of their estate?

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LAW OFFICE OF ROBERT I LONG
LAW OFFICE OF ROBERT I LONG | Robert I. Long
In California, that present s both title and trust contest issues beyond the scope of this format. You may have become sole owner o f record, but that does not mean your siblings do not have cognizable claims. You absolutely need an attorney licensed to practice in the state where the property is located to advise you .
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 11/6/2012
Hamblin Law Office | Sally Hamblin
As a joint tenant, you are the sole owner. You can do whatever you want with the property. You can rent it, sell it, or live in it but you legally are not required to divide anything regarding that house with anyone. Regarding the will, the deed overrides language in the will.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 10/28/2012
Stephens Gourley & Bywater | David A. Stephens
Based on the facts as outlined, you as the surviving joint tenant would own the home and it would not go into the trust.
Answer Applies to: Nevada
Replied: 10/26/2012
Asset Protection and Elder Law Center
Asset Protection and Elder Law Center | Shadi Alai-Shaffer
Only an attorney who properly reviews the deeds, the title on the deeds, and the estate planning documents (the Trust, Will, etc) can give you a proper answer to this question. I highly suggest you seek some help from an estate planning attorney before you do anything regarding the home or the trust.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 10/24/2012
CARL C SILVER ATTORNEY AT LAW
CARL C SILVER ATTORNEY AT LAW | Carl C Silver
First you need to obtain a copy of the deed to the house from your county register of deeds office to determine if the house is deeded to the trust or to you and your parents as joint tenants. It can't be owned by both as implied by your question.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 10/24/2012
    Victor Varga | Victor Varga
    To clarify, if you are/were a joint tenant with right of survivorship (and not tenants in common), then yes, upon their passing, all of their interest passed to you, so you are now the 100% owner. It would not be subject to probate/the estate/their will.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 10/24/2012
    Richard M. Gee, a PC
    Richard M. Gee, a PC | Richard M. Gee
    If the joint tenancy was between the trust and you, then the trust still owns a joint tenancy interest in the property and both you and the trustee of the trust should work together with respect to the disposition of the property. From what I can glean from your facts, you should not have acquired the trust's interest in the property because the trust has not terminated, regardless of the fact that your parents have passed. This assumes that you are a joint tenant and not a tenant in common, which is a different scenario.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 10/24/2012
    Law Office Of Victor Waid
    Law Office Of Victor Waid | Victor Waid
    Upon the death of your parents, the trust became fixed and non-modifiable. Since the real property was transferred into the trust, the trust provisions as to distribution control; any joint tenancy you may have had with your parents before the termination of the trust, was terminated when the property was transferred into the trust, terminating the joint tenancy; you may still have a tenancy in common interest in the real property, if your parents only transferred their undivided one half interest in the real property into the trust.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/24/2012
    Law Offices of Michael N. Stafford | Michael N. Stafford
    The general rule is that title to property owned in joint tenancy vests in the surviving joint tenant or joint tenants upon the death of the other joint tenants. If you are the sole surviving joint tenant than you own the property free of the will.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/24/2012
    Richard E. Damon, PC | Richard E. Damon
    If the house is in the trust, you are not a joint tenant, and the provisions of the declaration of trust determine who gets the house when the second parent dies. I think you have to get the facts straight before I can give you advice.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/24/2012
    The Law Offices of Laurie E. Ohall, P.A.
    The Law Offices of Laurie E. Ohall, P.A. | Laurie E. Ohall
    Your question is confusing because you say the house was held in a trust, but then you say you are a joint tenant. I would guess that your parent's interest (probably 50%?) was in the trust and then you hold an interest? You probably need an attorney to look at all the paperwork in order to correctly answer this question. If the house was held inside the trust, then the trust will dictate who gets it. If the house was held as joint tenants with rights of survivorship between you and your parents, then the surviving owner owns the property.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 10/24/2012
    R. Steven Chambers PLLC | R. Steven Chambers PLLC
    Your question raises two issues that aren't clear. You say the home was held in trust, by which I understand the trustees are the owners, as trustees of the trust and not individually. If that is the case the house is owned by the trust and will be disposed of as provided in the trust. In the same sentence you say "I am a joint tenant outside of trust." If that is the case and your parent was the other joint tenant, you are now the sole owner. However, both statements can't be true. The property has to be held either by the trust or as joint tenants with your deceased parent; it can't be simultaneously owned by the trust and by you as a joint tenant outside of the trust. So the first thing you have to do is find out how the house is held. That will determine what is done with it.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 11/9/2012
    GOLD & ASSOCIATES, P.C.
    GOLD & ASSOCIATES, P.C. | KENNETH GOLD
    You really need to have a qualified probate attorney review the Will, Trust and Deed to determine and advise you how the property was held.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 10/24/2012
    Goldsmith & Guymon
    Goldsmith & Guymon | Dara Goldsmith
    Your question is confusing the home really cannot be in a joint tenancy and in a trust. Usually a home is in a trust or in a joint tenancy but not both. I suggest that you meet with an attorney who can look at the deeds and advise you on the ownership status. Maybe it used to be in one and was transferred to the other? Again pull copies of the deeds and meet with an attorney to address your specific situation.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 10/24/2012
    Danville Law Group | Scott Jordan
    You are describing a very messy situation. It sounds like your parents are deceased. (Please accept my condolences.) They owned a home in which you are on title as joint tenant. They created a trust to hold their property. The did not transfer their interest in the home to their trust. By law, when they died, you became the sole owner of the property outside of the trust. You should file a notice of death of joint tenant with the county recorder's office. In the trust, there are directions for the trustee (you) to sell the property, that you own outright, and split the proceeds with your siblings. This is an improper instruction. If the property is not owned by the trust, the trustee cannot sell the property that it does not own. If my understanding of the facts is correct, you are the sole owner of the property. You may do whatever you wish with the property. Your siblings have no say in the matter. If you decide to sell and divide the proceeds with your siblings, you are doing so as a gift from you to them. Please consult your tax consultant regarding any tax ramifications to you.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/24/2012
    The Schreiber Law Firm
    The Schreiber Law Firm | Jeffrey D. Schreiber
    If it is a true joint tenancy, being the last living joint tenant would give you the property as yours alone. However, people sometimes will state it is a joint tenancy without knowing whether or not the deed actually created a joint tenancy. To be a true joint tenancy, the title must have been conveyed to the three of you at the same time and the conveyance should say something to the effect of "[Dad, Mom and Child] (whatever theirs and you true names are), as joint tenants, with right of survivorship" to create a joint tenancy which makes you the sole owner at Dad and Mon's death. You should consult with an attorney familiar with the law of the state where the property is located to determine if a true joint tenancy with rights of survivorship was created.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/24/2012
    Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C.
    Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C. | Brian Haggerty
    This depends on the terms of the trust and the language of the deed. You should get an attorney to review both real property is worth too much to make mistakes. Incidentally, if you sell into a bad market, you then have cash you can use to buy in the same bad market.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 10/24/2012
    Stone|Novasky, LLC
    Stone|Novasky, LLC | Robert Novasky
    From your description, it sounds like the trust held an ownership interest in your parents' home and that you were a joint tenant with the trust. If the house was jointly owned by the trust, then the trustee (and you, as a joint tenant) is empowered to make decisions about how to best handle the house/property. The way you have described the situation, your siblings don't have an ownership interest in the home. The fact that they are named as beneficiaries in the will(s) may not matter; it depends what kind of trust was set up and what rights/interests your parents retained, if any, outside of the trust. If your siblings are beneficiaries of the trust, they have a right to an interest in the trust proceeds. However, if the trust empowers you, as the trustee, to make decisions about the trust property then it is up to you to decide what is in the best interests of the trust and the beneficiaries.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 10/24/2012
    Irsfeld, Irsfeld & Younger LLP | Norman H. Green
    The house was either in joint tenancy with you or it was in a trust (or maybe something else altogether). A trust cannot be a joint tenant. If no trust is involved and you are a joint tenant, then it probably belongs to you. If they originally held it in joint tenancy with you and then they put their two-thirds into a trust, then you own a third. If it was in trust completely, then you (as an individual) own nothing. The Trust must be administered in accordance with the terms of the trust instrument. If the trust says that the estate is to be distributed, then you should not hold it for investment or other use, but should sell now.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/24/2012
    Law Office of Pamela Braynon | Pamela Y. Braynon
    If the tenancy is held as a joint tenancy with the right of survivorship, then you are the sole owner of the property. If not, your parent's share will be divided proportionately among your siblings. Its always best to consult an attorney in matters that deal with real property.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 10/24/2012
    Law Offices of Frances Headley | Frances Headley
    If the deed is a true joint tenancy deed then you are the sole owner of the property. You should consult a real estate attorney to review the deed and advise you.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/24/2012
    Law Offices of Charles R. Perry
    Law Offices of Charles R. Perry | Charles R. Perry
    You definitely need to consult with an attorney regarding this problem. My quick research suggests that if you and your parents were joint tenants before the transfer of the property into your parents' trust, then the joint tenancy was destroyed, and your parents' interest in the property would pass according to the terms of the trust. The question, however, does not appear to have been definitely resolved in the courts, as this is simply the the opinion of legal commentators. Further research is needed. I do not know what happens if the joint tenancy was created after the property was in the trust. As trustee and executor of the will, you have the power to probate the estate and obtain a declaration from the court as to whether the property should be transferred pursuant to the trust document or the terms of the joint tenancy. You also have an obvious conflict of interest here, and I do not know off the top of my head how the court would treat that. In any event, you would control the property until it is finally distributed, and your siblings could not force a sale through a partition action until they receive some interest in the property. As I said, you need to consult a lawyer, as these are difficult questions.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/24/2012
    Powell Potter PLLC
    Powell Potter PLLC | Shawn Potter
    You may be the sole owner if the property was held as joint tenants with right of survivorship. Otherwise, the estate needs to be probated and the other heirs will receive your parents shares in the house.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 10/24/2012
    Bassinger & Harvey
    Bassinger & Harvey | Randy J Harvey
    If the house is a trust asset, the trust controls its disposition. You should not take any action with the house without having the trust documents and will examined by an attorney, preferably the one who prepared them.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 10/24/2012
    Whiteford, Taylor, & Preston | Edwin Fee
    It depends on the terms of the deed, the trust, and the will.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 6/26/2013
    Gates' Law, PLLC | Thomas E. Gates
    If the home was held in trust, the trust document governs the handling of the house. The will controls distribution for all items that are not in the trust.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 10/24/2012
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC | John F Brennan
    Need many more details, could be your house or your siblings could protest the transfer. Seek counsel with the details to get a firm opinion.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 10/24/2012
    Frederick & Frederick PLC | James P Frederick
    You have a very unusual situation. I have almost never seen anyone own property jointly with a trust. The terms of your documents are going to govern and it sounds like you need to have those reviewed. The Trust controls only assets within the trust. The Will controls only assets in the decedent's name alone. The deed can by-pass both Trust and Will, depending on its terms. Or the deed could provide that the share of the parents goes to their estate. This may not have been the intent, but I have had numerous situations where this has happened. If everything was set up through an attorney, it is very likely done right. Without being able to see the documents, however, it is impossible to say exactly where you stand.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 10/24/2012
    Ben T. Liu Law Office
    Ben T. Liu Law Office | Ben T. Liu
    If you are the joint owner with rights of survivorship, you own the house. Have an attorney look at the deed to make sure.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 10/24/2012
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