Should I be afraid to lose my home?

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Should I be afraid to lose my home?

My husband and I have lived in my home for over 16 years. However, my father helped us get the property so it was in his name, he’s never put any money towards anything We paid our own the entire time. My dad died a few months ago and I’m learning that unlike what was supposed to happen he left my house to my mother and not me. I’m to get it upon her death is what I’m told. I want to make sure she or anyone who has power of attorney over her cannot sell or try to remove us from our home.

Asked on November 22, 2017 under Estate Planning, South Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, it is not your home, based on what you write: it was titled in your father's name and so it was *his* home not yours--he was the owner. The fact that you paid the costs or for the home does not make it yours unless you were on the title: people can and do pay for homes they do not own all the time, for example, whether as "rent" for living there, or to help out a family member, etc. Making payments does not give you any right to the home; only being on the title makes you an owner. Since you were not on the title, you did not own it; since your father was on the title ("it was in his name," as you write), he was the owner and therefore he could will it to whomever he wanted. If he willed it to your mother, it is her home, not yours, and she--or someone with a POA from her--can evict you, lease it to other people, sell it, etc.  (An oral promise has no effect on what happens to property after someone dies; only a will controls who gets the property.) Based on what you write, you have no rights to the home.


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