What are a co-owner’s rightswhen the other co-owner dies?

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What are a co-owner’s rightswhen the other co-owner dies?

I live with my significant other in his house in PA. We bought a home together in FL – 50/50 – both names on title. What happens if he passes before I do? He has 3 children and has all his assets and home are in his will; they are the beneficiaries. He has never updated his Will since we bought this home in FL a 1 1/2 years ago. I wonder if his half of the house would go to his children and I would have to buy their part out.

Asked on September 4, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

What your rights are in such a situation depends on just how you hold title to the FL property. Did you take ownership as "tenantsin common" or "joint tenants with right of survivorship". It will say on the deed itself (if it does not, tenants in common will be presumed).

If you took title has "joint tenants with right of survivorship" then, as a matter of law, upon the passing of your significant other you will own 100% of the property; his children will have no claim to it.  If, on the other hand, you took title as "tenants in common", this means that upon the death of your co-owner, his share passes into his estate.  The beneficiaries under the Will (his children) would then have 1/2 ownership right to the property.  At that point you could try and make arrangements to purchase their share from them.

At this point, you should consult with an estate planning attorney and discussyour situation with them.  Can can best advise you as to how best to protect your rights.


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