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?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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