If my name is not on the deed to my husband’s house, what happens if he were to pass away?

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If my name is not on the deed to my husband’s house, what happens if he were to pass away?

He said since I’m his wife it automatically “becomes” mine.

Asked on September 20, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If your husband dies intestate, which means without a Will, as the surviving spouse you would inherit his entire estate.

If you live in a community property state and the house was purchased during marriage, each spouse has a one half interest in the community property.  Your husband under his Will could dispose of his half of the community property, which means you might only end up with a one half interest in the house.   If the house was purchased by your husband before marriage, the house is his separate property.  A spouse has no claim to the other spouse's separate property, which means your husband could dispose of the house by a Will and leave it to someone else.

If you don't live in a community property state, other rules may be applicable.

Intestate succession (dying without a Will) again means you would inherit your husband's entire estate since you are the surviving spouse.

If your husband leaves a Will, he could leave the house to you or to someone else if the house is his separate property (acquired before marriage) and you live in a community property state.

If you live in a community property state, your husband could only dispose of one half ot the community property by Will because you would inherit the other half.


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