Do I need a will in order to get their house when my stepfather passes away? 30 Answers as of February 06, 2013

My mom and dad bought land years ago and built a house on it. My dad passed away in 1974 and my mom remarried. My mom passed away in 2004. The title to the land is in her name and % of the estate of my stepfather. Do I need a will in order to get their house when he passes away? He is 83, very ill and lives with me.

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Hamblin Law Office | Sally Hamblin
It is suggested he quit claim the property to both you and he as joint tenants. No probate is required. Upon his death the property becomes yours. No possible inheritance tax, generally, is reviewed.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 2/6/2013
Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C.
Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C. | Brian Haggerty
There are many details that need to be filled in here to properly answer this. In general, though, there is no way you inherit from your step-father unless he makes a will and gives property to you. If he has no will, his estate can only pass to blood relatives.
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 2/6/2013
Frederick & Frederick PLC | James P Frederick
You need a Will, if there is no other planning in place. The reason is that you would not be considered an heir under Michigan law. You might be better off with a deed than a Will, since the deed would allow you to avoid probate. But a Will would at least guarantee that the property eventually gets to you.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 2/6/2013
Law Office Of Victor Waid
Law Office Of Victor Waid | Victor Waid
No you don't need a will , but you will want to have a lawyer assist you in the preparation of a petition to probate court to have the title placed in your name, should you want to sell the property some day, so you can pass clear title. Of course you don't need to take care of this matter until your step father passes, but you could commence the legal proceeding now, even though stepfather lives on the property.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 2/6/2013
Richard J. Keyes Attorney at Law | Richard J. Keyes
In Missouri, if you wished to get the real estate without a will, you could have your step-father do a beneficiary deed so upon his death, the house goes to you and avoids probate. I still suggest a will and also a durable power of attorney for financial decisions and a durable power of attorney for health care.
Answer Applies to: Missouri
Replied: 2/5/2013
    Peters Law, PLLC
    Peters Law, PLLC | Mark T. Peters, Sr.
    It does not sound like you are his heir, so yes, he will need to name you as the legatee in the will. Otherwise, his interest will go to his heirs.
    Answer Applies to: Idaho
    Replied: 2/5/2013
    Law Offices of Frances Headley | Frances Headley
    Yes, unless your stepfather adopted you. His estate without a Will would go to his next of kin, which does not include stepchildren.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/5/2013
    Durham Jones & Pinegar | Erven Nelson
    Yes, a will would be helpful. Better yet, get a deed on the house. Best would be to set up a trust to avoid probate court.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 2/5/2013
    Irsfeld, Irsfeld & Younger LLP | Norman H. Green
    Does he have heirs other than you? Also, why is it still in your mother's name? You should probate your mother's estate now.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/5/2013
    THE BROOME LAW FIRM, LLC
    THE BROOME LAW FIRM, LLC | Barry D. Broome
    His Will must state that his share of the land will go to you.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 2/5/2013
    The Law Offices of Laurie E. Ohall, P.A.
    The Law Offices of Laurie E. Ohall, P.A. | Laurie E. Ohall
    In 2004, Florida law dictated that if a decedent died with the house solely in their name, and no will leaving to surviving spouse, the surviving spouse would get a life estate in the house with the remainder interest to the decedent's children. Assuming this is the case with your situation, at your step-father's death, the house would belong to your mother's children. If no probate was ever opened after your mother's death, you would need to open a probate for the title to actually be put into the names of the children and your step-father.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 2/5/2013
    Law Office of Pamela Braynon | Pamela Y. Braynon
    Because the title to the land remained in your mother's name, your stepfather had what is called a life estate in the property, which essentially means he owns the property for his life. You won't necessarily need a will but you will have to go through probate to transfer the title of the property in your name. You would have to probate your mother's estate. If you probate it before he passes away, once he dies the title can be transferred to you soon after he dies.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 2/5/2013
    Danville Law Group | Scott Jordan
    To determine who would inherit the house requires more facts. Are you the only child of your mother? Does your stepfather have any children? Is your stepfather named on the deed as an owner?
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/5/2013
    James Law Group
    James Law Group | Christine James
    You are not your stepfather's legal heir. If he wants you to inherit his property he must put something in writing. Based on his advanced age and health I strongly recommend an attorney draft it with an independent review.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/5/2013
    Goldsmith & Guymon
    Goldsmith & Guymon | Dara Goldsmith
    Your stepfather would need to execute a Will in favor of you to make you a beneficiary of his estate. The bigger issue is whether he still possesses testamentary capacity, as you mention he is very ill. You should get a written medical opinion about his mental capacity to determine if he can in fact make a Will. Assuming he does have testamentary capacity, then your stepfather should meet with an independent attorney to address his estate planning desires.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 2/5/2013
    Law Offices of Gerald A. Bagazinski
    Law Offices of Gerald A. Bagazinski | Gerald A. Bagazinski
    It is not clear to me from your question but I am assuming that the land is in your step father's name. He acquired it because it was put in joint name with rights of survivor ship by your mom. He should write a will or a trust to determine how is property will pass to his heirs. If he dies without a will or trust, his property will pass to his family.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 2/5/2013
    Huddleston Law Group, LPA | C L Huddleston
    If I understand your questions, yes, your stepfather needs a Will to pass to you his interest in the real estate. If he does not have a Will, everything he owns will pass to his "next of kin" which may be his children, his siblings, nieces, nephews, etc. You are not related to him by blood, so if he were to die without a Will, the property will not pass to you. The disposition of land is controlled by how it is owned and what the Will says. You say that title to the land is in your mother's name. She is dead so that cannot be true. If you hope to inherit this land and house, you need to get copies of all deeds related to the property and have your grandfather meet with an estate planning specialist immediately. Most estate planning lawyers will come to your residence if your grandfather is too ill to travel. However, if your grandfather has children of his own and is not clearly competent, most lawyers will not have him sign a new Will or Living Trust. Time is not on your side. You must see an estate planning lawyer immediately.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 2/5/2013
    Cruikshank Law Office | CHARLES CRUIKSHANK
    Without a will, it is likely that his heirs/relatives will inherit from him instead of you. Your b question leaves some questions unadressed, but it is extremely important that your stepfather have a will if you are to inherit the house based upon the picture your question paints.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 2/5/2013
    The Law Office of David L. Leon
    The Law Office of David L. Leon | David L. Leon
    I would have to review the title documents to determine who owns the house. A will would only deal with a percentage of the house that the stepfather owns (if any). Assuming no probate was ever done on mom or dad, you would need to clear mom and dad's interest. Then a will would cover whatever interest is left.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 2/5/2013
    Ben T. Liu Law Office
    Ben T. Liu Law Office | Ben T. Liu
    You probably need a will or trust. Have an attorney review the matter.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 2/5/2013
    The Wideman Law Center, P.C. | Susan Wideman Schaible
    This is very unusual titling - You should consult with any attorney for an interpretation of the deed. It is not clear what your step-father owns and what is now part of your deceased mother's estate.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 2/5/2013
    Winnick Ruben Hoffnung Peabody & Mendel, LLC | Daniel N. Hoffnung
    He needs a will.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 2/5/2013
    Rags Beals Seigler Patterson & Gray
    Rags Beals Seigler Patterson & Gray | Ronald D. Reemsnyder
    If your Mother died without a will the land passed under the intestacy laws . You do need a will for your stepfather and you also need to speak with an attorney to sort out how the land passed when your Mother died.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 2/5/2013
    Alston & Bird | Jack Sawyer
    If your step-father owns the house it would go to his heirs at his death. You are not one of his heirs, so you would need for him to leave his interest to you under his Will.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 2/5/2013
    Reger Rizzo & Darnall LLP | Kathleen DeLacy
    If deed is still in your mother's name and she left a Will giving it to him then yes, he will either need to make a Will or sign house over to you now.
    Answer Applies to: Delaware
    Replied: 2/5/2013
    Kokish & Goldmanis, P.C.
    Kokish & Goldmanis, P.C. | Bernard H. Greenberg
    Your question makes it sound as if your Mom died owning the property in her own name. That means the property is in her probate estate and that estate must go through estate administration for the property to go either according to her Will or pursuant to the laws of Colorado. You should consult with an attorney specializing in estate matters to proceed further.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 2/5/2013
    Meissner, Joseph & Palley, Inc.
    Meissner, Joseph & Palley, Inc. | John Palley
    Yes, your stepfather should get a will made for sure. Have him work with an experienced estate planning attorney so everything is set up properly. Often the issue that trips people up is failure to establish the will correctly. This might mean suggestions of undue influence against you later or failure to have the witnesses sign a will correctly. An experienced probate attorney will get all that done right! Also, talk to the attorney about a trust as that is generally a better way to transfer real estate.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/5/2013
    Byers & Goulding, PLC | Andrew Byers
    Yes, in order for you to inherit your stepfather's interest in the land, he would need to leave it to you in a Will or Living Trust. The deed between your mother and stepfather should be reviewed by an attorney to see where her interest in the land went or was supposed to go.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 2/5/2013
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC | John F Brennan
    Yes, or something must be done NOW, otherwise you may end up with no rights to the residence.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 2/5/2013
    Neil J. Lehto, Esq.
    Neil J. Lehto, Esq. | Neil J. Lehto
    Yes, if your step-father never adopted you. In that case, you would not inherit from him. By making he will, he could pass the house and land to you. Otherwise, it would go to any of his surviving family members.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 2/5/2013
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