What are a child’s rights to property that was in the name of their mother and stepfather?

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What are a child’s rights to property that was in the name of their mother and stepfather?

My father has recently passed away after a long battle with cancer. Before he died, he signed a quitclaim deed in order to transfer ownership of his home to me in the event of his death. I am one of my father’s children; my brother lives far away and my intention is to divide money earned from the sale of the home after all bills have been paid. There is no written or verbal contract of this, merely a gesture of goodwill for the sake of fairness. To complicate matters, my mother (who died many years ago), has 3 other children from another marriage. They believe that because my mother’s name was still on the house when my father died that they have a claim to the property. Is that so?

Asked on July 3, 2015 under Real Estate Law, Illinois

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Since you parents were married, they probably took title to the house as "joints tenants with rights of survivorship" (in some states, as "tenants by the entirety"). This means that when 1 of them died, the other would have become the sole owner of the propwerty. Therefore, since your mother passed away first, at the time of her death your father became vested with 100% ownership. Consequently, he was free to sell or transfer the house to whomever he saw fit. Your step-siblings have no claim on it.

Since I may not have all of the details of your situation, the above is just a general answer to your question. At this point, you should consult directly with an attorney in your area. They can best advise you further.


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