What rights does a wife have if her name is not on the deed? 24 Answers as of September 23, 2014

I have been married 18 years. My name is not on the deed. He and I want to know in the event of his death, do I have a legal right to stay and live in the house? Can his daughter try and force me out of the house if my name is not on the deed?

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Singletary Law Offices, PLLC | Alexis R Singletary
There is some missing information here. Did you and your husband purchase the house together after you were married or was the house husband's already at the time you got married? To protect you and avoid any issues, you and your husband need a Will or Trust that spells out where you want your estate (including the house) will go upon his passing.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 9/23/2014
Stephens Gourley & Bywater | David A. Stephens
That depends on why the wife's name is not on the deed, if you live in a community property state, and if there is a will for the deceased husband. The husband's kids could certainly try to evict the wife.
Answer Applies to: Nevada
Replied: 8/15/2014
Christine Sabio Socrates Attorney at Law | Christine Socrates
If you are not on the deed and your husband passes, the house would need to go through probate. If he has a will, then it would depend on what the provisions on the will are. If he does not have a will, or you elect to take against the will, then you would receive what the statute provides. You can avoid all of that by executing a new joint and survivor deed or he can also execute a transfer on death affidavit that upon his death, the house would pass to you.
Answer Applies to: Ohio
Replied: 8/15/2014
S. Joseph Schramm | Joseph Schramm
Your husband can execute a will in which he would leave you the house and anything else he might own in his own name at the time of his death. Then his daughter would be unable to force you out of your home. Were your husband to die intestate (without a will) and the daughter is a child of another marriage then his estate would be divided between yourself as his wife and the children of his prior marriage. In such a case it could force the sale of your home or place you in a position where you would have to buy out her interest in order to keep the home if there were insufficient assets to offset the value of the house.
Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
Replied: 8/14/2014
Home Town Law, P.A.
Home Town Law, P.A. | Sabina Tomshinsky
Yes, upon your husband's passing, you have the right to stay in the house as you will get a life estate (the right to remain in the house for the rest of your life) and then upon your passing, the house would pass to your husband's heirs (such as his daughter). However, I would consult with an estate planning attorney on alternative/better ways to protect/secure your interest in the marital home.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 8/14/2014
    Lana Kurilova Rich PLLC
    Lana Kurilova Rich PLLC | Lana Kurilova Rich
    You may have a problem if your name is not on the title and your husband dies without a Will (or with a Will bequeathing the house to his daughter). If he dies without a Will, you and his daughter will both have rights to his estate, and the question becomes, is the house his separate property that he acquired before marrying you? If so, you may have a right to a portion of the house, but the daughter will also, so you would have to buy her out in order to remain in the house. I recommend that your husband gets his Will done, so that you know exactly what he wants done with the house. He may give you a life estate in it, meaning that he can give you the right to live in it for as long as you like, even until your death or your move to a nursing home (for example), but after you are done living in it, the house goes to his daughter (if that is what he wants). Essentially, if the house is his separate property, he should designate in his Will what he wants to happen after he is gone. If the house is a community property, you are entitled to your half, no matter what. The second half could possibly face being split between you and his daughter, so again, you may face the need to buy her out of her share. Overall, without a Will things could get complicated. Encourage your husband to do a Will.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/13/2014
    Law Ofices of Edwin K. Niles | Edwin K. Niles
    If title is in His name alone, and he dies, probate would be necessary in order to transfer title. This is expensive and time-consuming. If the property is entirely community property (funds entirely earned during marriage), it would go to Wife. If there is any separate property interest (funds earned before marriage, or gift or inheritance), that interest would go half to Wife. and half to Daughter. You surely need some estate planning.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/13/2014
    Zitzmann Law, LLC
    Zitzmann Law, LLC | James Zitzmann
    If he died without a will, you would receive a surviving spouse usufruct over the house. This means that you would still continue to be able to use the house and live in it, but the title would actually be in the daughter's (or other children's) name. This usufruct terminates if you remarry or when you die. If he wants you to have complete ownership of the house upon his death, he will need to make a will.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 8/13/2014
    James T. Weiner & Associates, P.C.
    James T. Weiner & Associates, P.C. | James T. Weiner
    In Michigan.. a wife may have a dower right to stay in the house after a husbands deathFurther as a wife in the absence of a separate estate plan (will trust signed by your husband) you will get the first $100-125K of assets plus 50% of the balance of the estate (more if his daughter is your child also) Now I would not rely on that and suggest you spend a few dollars and consult an attorney to set up a proper estate plan for both of you.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/13/2014
    Vandervoort, Christ & Fisher, P.C. | James E. Reed
    Assuming the house is in your husband's name alone (not joint with someone else), then you have a dower in the house. This interest would give you some right to remain in the home for the remainder of your life, but depends on other assets your husband owns and whether you will be receiving those other assets.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/13/2014
    Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C.
    Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C. | Brian Haggerty
    You have the right to live in his house for 1 year after his death. If he has no will, then you will inherit one half of his estate, and his children (who are not also your children) will inherit half. You would have first call to be named administrator of his estate, but if his daughter beats you to the courthouse with her petition to be administrator, then you'll have to work through an objection to her petition. (This is all Oregon information). Why would he not have a will? And why would he not deed a half interest in the house to you?
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 8/13/2014
    Goldsmith & Guymon
    Goldsmith & Guymon | Dara Goldsmith
    That is a complicated question. In Nevada it depends. Does he have a Will? Who is the beneficiary? What is the value of the home, under $100K, including all other assets he owns, or not? When was it purchased? How was it paid for? You need to speak with an attorney to flush out all of these issues. It is complicated. It is much less expensive to address these issues now, rather than after he dies.... This information is only intended to give general information in response to an inquiry. It does not establish an attorney client relationship. This response is only based upon the limited facts presented and is merely intended to assist you in determining if you should contact an attorney to provide you with legal advice.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 8/13/2014
    Law Office of Melissa Botting | Melissa Botting
    In Texas, inheritance depends on whether the property is community or separate. Just because the deed is only in his name does not necessarily mean it is separate property. If it is community property, you own half and cannot be forced to leave or sell. If it is separate and he has children from a previous relationship, you have a homestead right to live in the property for your life. If you leave the house or abandon the homestead, the children will take possession. You are not responsible for upkeep since you are not an owner. This also causes problems as the house may not be maintained in an effort to force you to leave. It would be best for him to address your concerns in a will or trust document.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 8/13/2014
    Law Office of Pamela Braynon | Pamela Y. Braynon
    As his wife if he were to die before you, you would have what is called a life estate in the home, meaning you can live there for the rest of your life. But why not alleviate any probable questions and have your husband draw up a will leaving you the house.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 8/13/2014
    Gates' Law, PLLC | Thomas E. Gates
    Why is your name not on the deed? Does your husband have a will? It is a simple matter to do a Quitclaim deed have you on the deed. Or, he can transfer the home to you via the will. Depending on the state you live in, if he dies intestate (without a will), you have certain protection via the state statues.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/13/2014
    Law Office Of Victor Waid
    Law Office Of Victor Waid | Victor Waid
    Yes; get some legal assistance to solve this potential problem. DO NOT DELAY.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/13/2014
    Durham Jones & Pinegar | Erven Nelson
    The answers to this question depend on the laws of the state in which you reside and the language of any will or trust and the deed on the house. If there is no will or trust, the laws of the state would govern. As a wife, you may have a right to 50% of the estate including the house. But, if your husband has left everything to his children in a will or trust, you might get nothing including the house. Why leave everything up to chance or unknown laws? I recommend that you and your husband figure this out while you both are still alive. Get a trust, wills and powers of attorney. And, have him deed the house to the appropriate party or person, hopefully a trust which will spell everything out.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 8/13/2014
    Ronald K. Nims LLC | Ronald K. Nims
    A surviving spouse has the right to elect to take the deceased spouse's entire ownership interest in their residence, REGARDLESS of whether the deceased spouse left a will.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 8/13/2014
    Patrick W. Currin, Attorney at Law | Patrick Currin
    You would likely have some rights, but only after the probate process. Putting the property in trust for your benefit is the best course of action.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/13/2014
    Estrada Law P.C. | Michele Ungvarsky
    Does your husband have a will? If so, who inherits the property? Who is listed on the deed? If it is joint with his daughter she will become the owner upon his death and you will have to have some agreement with her to continue to reside on the property. In New Mexico and a few other western states a Transfer on Death Deed can be filed to allow the property to be inherited by the named beneficiary without probate, but with no ownership interest until death. You may want to check to see if this option is available.
    Answer Applies to: New Mexico
    Replied: 8/13/2014
    The Krone Law Firm, LLC | Norman B. Krone
    Have a Will prepared for him which states that the house is yours upon his death.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 8/13/2014
    Attorney At Law | James G. Maguire
    If the house was purchased during the marriage, then you own one-half of the house. The best thing to do would be to have mutual wills. That would protect both of you.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 8/13/2014
    Ashcraft & Ashcraft, Ltd.
    Ashcraft & Ashcraft, Ltd. | Randall C. Romei
    If the deed to the home states that the property is owned jointly by the husband and his daughter then upon the husband's death the property will be owned by the daughter and she can force the wife out of the house. If the deed is solely in the name of the husband then the house will be part of the probate estate and distributed according to the terms of the Will, if any. The wife has renunciation rights under the Will but that does not mean the house would be available for her use. It probably would be sold and the proceeds divided. If the deed grants a life estate to the wife and then the remainder to the daughter then wife could use the house during her lifetime but if the wife needed to reside elsewhere in old age the property would not be available for the wife's support. An attorney should be consulted to devise an appropriate means to allow the wife to maintain her living standard and protect assets for the daughter.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 8/13/2014
    Sebby Law Office
    Sebby Law Office | Jayne Sebby
    If you live in a "community property" state and have paid on the expenses of the house, you might have a claim. Otherwise, you probably would not have a right to keep the house and/or live in it. Your husband can either add your name to the deed or leave it to you in his will. I recommend the first but if the second is the only option, make it a fee simple bequest and not a life estate.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 8/13/2014
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