Must spouses sign off oninherited propertythat is to besold?

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Must spouses sign off oninherited propertythat is to besold?

My significant other and his 3 siblings inherited their mother’s home in OH. Only 1 sibling is married, a brother, and he and his wife live in FL. The probate attorney says that any spouses must sign off if the home is sold. Why? These are not community property states. Other siblings live in GA and OH. There is no mortgage on the home and no taxes in arrears.

Asked on March 6, 2011 under Estate Planning, Ohio

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

In many states, the inheritance is considered separate property of the person inheriting, so that the spouse has nothing to do with it. I don't believe the attorney is correct in requiring a spouse to sign off on the inheritance when a) the spouse is not the one inheriting directly and b) inheritances are usually considered separate property.  If the home is owned now by all siblings, they are the only ones who have the right to decide to sell the whole thing or sell of their share. If there is no mortgage, then there is no additional issue of taking subject to an existing loan or assuming it and therefore no third party's controlling rights to consider. In Florida, if after the person who inherits the property improves the property and thus the value, that uptick in value might be considered a marital asset, the same applies if the other non-inheriting spouse helps pay to improve said property. Perhaps the lawyer had a specific directive in the will or trust but otherwise, there doesn't seem to be a reason for the signature of the brother's spouse. If this is a large law firm, check with the attorney's supervising partner. Or if this is a sole practitioner, consider getting a second opinion from another probate or estate planning attorney.


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