What rights does a wife have if everything is in the husband’s or his family’s name during marriage?

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What rights does a wife have if everything is in the husband’s or his family’s name during marriage?

I have been married for 8 years and with my husband for 12. During this time he purchased property in his name and his family’s names; nothing is in my name. Also, what are my rights as his wife if he passed away? Am I responsible for his debt?

Asked on March 31, 2012 under Family Law, Kentucky

Answers:

Patricia F. Bushman / Bushman & DuBose, LLC

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

In a community property state, property your husband purchases during the marriage in his name, is community property.  Property he puts in other people's names is harder for you to keep an interest in.  In a divorce, you might be able to prove a wasting of assets or fraud.  If he dies without a will, you will have a community interest in his property, but the property titled in other people's names will be harder to get.  Talk with a good attorney in your area to explore this further.

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If possible, you need to start to make a list of all the proeprty, when purchased and with whom, and in whose name the property is held.  If you can get a hold of documents involved in any of the transactions and make copies then I would as well.  The law assumes that assets acquired during a marriage are marital assets regardless of whose name they are in.  They are purchased with "marital money" - money earned during the marriage.  That includes debts wracked up during a marriage too.  You are going to have a fight on your hands with his family if something happens.  And there will be great tax laibility if the property does not have your name on it.  Get advice as soon as you can get the documents together.  Good luck.  PS  You can always d title searches on the property if you can not find the documents and only have the addresses. 


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