If an elderly parent and one adult child owns a house jointly, when the parent dies does 50% of the home’s equity go into the estate?

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If an elderly parent and one adult child owns a house jointly, when the parent dies does 50% of the home’s equity go into the estate?

The parent has a Will stating all assets will be evenly divided among the children. However, the parent lives with and jointly owns a house with one of the children. What happens to the parent’s 50% equity in the home at their death?

Asked on August 28, 2012 under Estate Planning, Georgia

Answers:

Catherine Blackburn / Blackburn Law Firm

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

This is a very important question, and people often fail to understand what they are doing when they take joint ownership of a home.  The answer depends on how the deed is written.  If it is written that the parent and child are "tenants in common" then each own some percentage of the property.  However, if the deed is written that the parent and child are "joint tenants with a right of survivorship" (or similar language), then the entire property passes to this child when the parent passes away.  If the parent and child are joint tenants with a right of survivorship, it does not matter what the will says.

It sounds like you are one of the other children.  You can go to the recorder's office in the county where the property is located (this is usually a part of the county clerk of court) and get a copy of the deed.   This is the only way you will know.  If your parent did not intend to give the entire property to the one child but the deed is written as joint tenants with a right of survivorship, the parent and child should change this now.  If the parent did intend to give the entire property to the one child, the will does not change this result.


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