Do I have to sign over my rights to my mother’s house if the house was paid for before her marriage to her husband of 18 years?

My mother has cancer and her husband is
asking my siblings and I to turn the
house over to him. My father died in
1996, and the house was paid off then.
It was my parents house together. Her
husband moved in after they married in
1999. Do my siblings and I have to sign
it over?

Asked on March 25, 2018 under Estate Planning, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

No, you do not have to sign the house over to him: this was an asset which predated marriage and is therefore not a marital or community asset. If you mother passes away, if she has a will, the house--which is her property solely, not his--will go to whomever she wills or leaves it to, subject to the fact that in your state (TX), a surviving spouse does get a "life estate" in the home--the right to keep living there for the rest of his life (or until he voluntarily moves out), at which point the house then becomes the property of the people she willed it to, and he (the spouse) cannot sell the house or leave it to anyone else. If there is no will, then under intestate succession (the rule for who gets what when there is no will), he gets the life estate as described above, plus a 1/3 interest in or share of the home (becomes 1/3 owner), while her children get the other 2/3. Therefore, there is no reason to sign it to him: he'll get to keep living there, but he does not inherit it unless he specifically wills it to him.


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