What happens to a house if it is only in the name of one spouse and that spouse dies?

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What happens to a house if it is only in the name of one spouse and that spouse dies?

My wife’s name is not on the mortgage and we have 3 years to pay it off. If I die today can I have the mortgage turned over to her by specifying that in my Will? Or will she lose the house?

Asked on December 28, 2011 under Estate Planning, North Carolina

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If you specify in the will that your wife has to take the loan (assume the loan) in order to obtain the bequest, that can cause a lot of problems for you and for her. You really need to speak with an estate planning attorney who can help you decide if transferring into joint tenancy will keep the house out of probate and allow her to take immediately. If you don't have the house in joint title, there will be probate required. If you have children and wish to keep the home in trust eventually, consider having a pour over will into a trust and naming you and your spouse as trustees and then your children as trustees thereafter.


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