What happens to the house since it was not listed in the Will?

My mother owned her house and she passed away recently. She wanted the house to go to her children, but the house was not mentioned in the Will. Her financial assets went to my stepfather. My stepfather has children from a previous marriage. The current Will states that when he passes it will be divided equally between all children, his and hers. The 2 oldest, his and hers, are named executors in the Will when he passes. What happens to the house since it was not listed in the will? Can my stepfather change the current Will and change asset allocation?

Asked on December 10, 2010 under Estate Planning, Texas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If the house was owned jointly by your mother and stepfather, then it became his alone automatically upon your mother's death--as it would have become hers alone had he passed away before her. While you say your mother owned her home, you should check to see if she did own it by herself or if at some point the stepfather became an owner, too.

If the home was owned purely by your mother, it appears that the step-father would get a 1/3 interest in it plus a "life estate" (right to live out his life there), and the balance would go to your mother's children. If this is the case, then when he passes, you'll get a 2/3 interest in the house and he can leave his children his 1/3 interest. However, given what is at stake--an interest in a house--you should consult with a trust and estates attorney who can evaluate the situation for you and advice you.

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