Upon my mother’s death, who will be entitled to the house?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Upon my mother’s death, who will be entitled to the house?

My parents brought a house many years ago. Before my father passed away, he created a will that stated that upon his death my sister and I were to inherit the house. He eventually died and now my mother and I live in the house together. My sister moved to another state over 40 years ago and has not contributed financially for anything regarding the house. My mother made a Will but never included anything regarding the house.

Asked on May 2, 2018 under Estate Planning, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If there is no will, or a will which does address who inherits the house, the house will pass by "intestate succession," or the rules for who inherits what when there is no will controlling. That means that your mother's surviving children will share equally in your mother's share of or inherest in the home. If there are only the two of you (you and your sister), then you would get 1/2 of your mother's 1/2 interest in the home and your sister would get the other 1/2, leaving you with a 3/4 interest, your sister with 1/4. That she moved away, that she has not contributed financially, etc. is irrelevant: the intestate succession laws do not take any notice of those factors.
You mother could will her share of the home solely to you, if she chooses.
The above assume that you and your mother both own as "tenants in common," which is the most likely way the two of your own the home if left it by a will. If instead you own it as "joint tenants with right of survivorship," when one of you passes away, the other one instantly inherits her share without it even going through probate.

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