What are the rights of a widow to a house in both her and her deceased spouse’s names?

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What are the rights of a widow to a house in both her and her deceased spouse’s names?

My mother just lost her husband. It looks as if he never re-wrote his Will which leaves everything to his son and his former wife. My step-father and my mom had been married for 17 years and bought the house together. Will she lose everything she has worked for?

Asked on April 6, 2012 under Estate Planning, Florida

Answers:

Steven Fromm / Steven J Fromm & Associates, P.C.

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If the house was deed in joint tenancy it passes to her regardless of what the wlll states.  She needs to get an estates attorney to represent her interests in the estate and to assert her statutory rights over property controlled by will.  She cannot do this on her own.

For a sense of what is involved in administering an estate in most states, please see the following two articles:  Estate & Probate Administration: Do Not Try This On Your Own at http://www.sjfpc.com/page1.html  and Pennsylvania Probate & Estate Administration: Executor Duties at http://www.sjfpc.com/pennsylvania_probate_estate__administration_duties_of_executor_and_administrator.html

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your Mother's loss.  No, she will not lose everything.  You Mother has what is known as a "right of election" against the Will in the state of Florida of her husband's estate.  That means she will get a certain percentage of his estate.  Now, the house they bought together as husband and wife is hers alone as long as it is titled as such.  SHe has rights of survivorship in joint assets including bank acounts.  Let her seek legal help asap.  Good luck.


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