If a brother and sister share joint ownership of a property and the sister dies without a written Will, does her surviving spouse and children have any claim to the property?

Get Legal Help Today

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

If a brother and sister share joint ownership of a property and the sister dies without a written Will, does her surviving spouse and children have any claim to the property?

The property was left to the brother and sister by their deceased father.

Asked on October 25, 2011 under Estate Planning, New Hampshire

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Just how does the deed read?  If the brother and sister all hold title as "joint tenants with rights of survivorship" (or similar wording), then upon the passing of one of the joint owners the other joint owner becomes the sole owner. In other words, the deceased owner's heirs/beneficiaries have no rights in the property. It is this restriction on the transferability of an owner's interest which is why specific survivorship wording is legally required.

If the brother and sister own the property as "tenants in common", then each owner's share is freely transferable. A tenancy in common can be designated on the face of the deed; if it is not (i.e. if there is no specific wording at all other than the owner's names) it is presumed to be as tenants in common. In such a case, a deceased co-owner's share would be inherited by their heirs/beneficiaries.


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 AttorneyPages.com 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.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption