If a spouse dies, is the other spouse entitled to part of the real estate iftheir name is not on the deed?

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If a spouse dies, is the other spouse entitled to part of the real estate iftheir name is not on the deed?

My friend lost his wife about 1 1/2 years ago. The home they shared had been purchased by his wife and her parents before they were married. There is some type of stipulation on the deed that says that if the daughter should pass away then the house would belong to the parents. My friend has been paying the mortgage for some time. Along with the taxes and insurance. He has also invested money in the house for repairs to roof and plumbing. Now he has been told that he has no legal claim to the home at all. In fact his sister in law wants to have him evicted from the home.

Asked on April 7, 2011 under Estate Planning, Ohio

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Your friend needs to go to an attorney for help as soon as he possibly can.  How property is held at the time of a person's death determines if it is part of the estate of the decedent (his wife) and how it is to be distributed depends on same as well.  When property is held with rights of survivorship (which is what I believe the deed says in this situation) it passes automatically to the other party at the time of death. But I do think that your friend has a claim on the estate for reimbursement.  So how things pan out here will depend on many things which need to be determined.  Please seek legal help.  Good luck.


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