What are our options if there is a dispute over a will? 8 Answers as of April 01, 2011

My mother in law is a widow and co-owns her home of 60 years with her youngest son only. She wants to change the title of the home to include her other four children. Her youngest son does not want to sign over his part of the home. Is there anything my wife and her three brothers can do other than sue him?

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Indianapolis Bankruptcy Law Office of Eric C. Lewis
Indianapolis Bankruptcy Law Office of Eric C. Lewis | Eric Lewis
If the youngest son has a particularized interest in the title, he does not have to assign his share to anyone if he doesn't want to - only the mother-in-law's share would be divided.
Answer Applies to: Indiana
Replied: 4/1/2011
Burnham & Associates
Burnham & Associates | Stephanie K. Burnham
This is really a real estate question, and suing will not result in changing the title based on the facts that you have mentioned. Unless there is a written contract somewhere that the youngest brother agreed to sign over his interests, he doesn't have to and a Court won't make him. Your Mother-in-Law can deed her interests in the property to herself and her other children, and even though it will not be an equal division of the house, it will allow the other children to receive something when she passes. The youngest child does not have to sign that deed for the change in the Mom's interest in the property.
Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
Replied: 4/1/2011
Apple Law Firm PLLC
Apple Law Firm PLLC | David Goldman
Probably not, but she can leave her 1/2 interest to the other 3 children. This should be done before her death to avoid the ownership to pass to the other child. If she has other assets, she can also make up the difference using a will or trust to account for the difference in asset value. You might consider looking at an enhanced life estate deed.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 3/30/2011
Law Office of Richard B. Kell
Law Office of Richard B. Kell | Richard B. Kell
There is nothing that your *wife and her 3 brothers* can do. They would probably lose in a lawsuit, unless they can prove that some type of fraud/duress had taken place for the youngest son to get on the deed/title. Wills can only transfer property that is owned outright at the time of death. If your mother-in-law and the brother hold title as "joint tenants with right of survivorship," then BOTH of them must agree to a transfer. If not, the youngest son will take title automatically upon her death - regardless of what a Will states. The same result will occur if your mother-in-law has already transferred title to the brother, but reserved a "life estate" for herself (which is common). If your mother-in-law holds as a "joint" tenant, as opposed to a "life" tenant (you'll have to look at the deed), then *she* will either have to get permission from her son to sell or convey title back (not likely), or bring a lawsuit *herself* in court to partition the property for sale. However, if she only holds a life estate/tenancy in the property, then your wife and her other brothers are going to be out of luck completely.
Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
Replied: 3/30/2011
Theodore W. Robinson, P.C.
Theodore W. Robinson, P.C. | Theodore W. Robinson
It may depend upon how the present deed reads, meaning whether the ownereship is in what's known as "Joint tenancy" or "tenants in common." There are big differences between the two, however, it should be remembered that either way, if the one son doesn't want to share, there may be no other way but to sue him. There are different ways to handle such a suit, but this is not the format in which to discuss it. That would be best done in an office conferenc when all aspects can be discussed in detail. However, there are ways to make changes to at least half of the property.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 3/30/2011
    Law Offices of Brian Chew
    Law Offices of Brian Chew | Brian Chew
    While your mother in law can not force her son to change title on the home, she can assign her portion to her children by either deeding her share to them using a quitclaim deed or if she want to avoid any gift tax issues and avoid probate, she can transfer her share to a living trust and stipulate that her share of the home goto her other children. Consult an attorney regarding setting up a living trust.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/30/2011
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