Who has legal rights to the property?

My father passed away in April and he was married to my step
mom. She just passed away in August. Their is no Will or
living trust. She doesn’t have any children from the
marriage. She has two surving brothers. Who is entitle to
the house. The house islocated in Evanston, Il.

Asked on September 5, 2017 under Estate Planning, Maryland


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

When there was no will and the property was not in a trust, in your state (Maryland), IF the house had been solely in his name (e.g. owned premarriage), under the rules for intestate succession (who gets what when there is no will), the stepmother and you (and any siblings of yours) would both/all inherit the house together (become co-owners): in MD, the spouse gets the first $15,000 in value of an estate plus 1/2 of everything over $15k, while the children get the rest (so, 1/2 of the estate less $15k).
Then when she passed, her share of the house goes to her brothers if she had no children or living parents. In this scenario, you and any siblings of yours together own 1/2 the house, the stepmother's brothers own/share the other 1/2.
However, if your father owned the home jointly as Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship (JTROS) with your stepmother, on his death, the house became hers entirely and automatically; it was not part of his estate. Then on her death, it went 100% to her brothers. JTROS bypasses inheritiance under both wills and intestate succession.

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