Who doesa house go to if both owners die but one predeceased the other?

UPDATED: May 28, 2011

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Who doesa house go to if both owners die but one predeceased the other?

My father died recently preceded by my stepmother (4 years ago). He had a Will but she did not. Both of their names are on the mortgage of the house. Does the house go to me and my siblings alone or does it also go to the stepchildren?

Asked on May 28, 2011 under Estate Planning, Tennessee


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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

It depends. How did they hold title to the house? If it was as"joint tenants", then upon her death your father would have taken over ownership completely. This means that upon his death he could Will the property 100% to whomever he chose. If, however, your father and stepmother held title as tenants in common, then upon her death her share of the property would have passed 1/2 to her estate (this would have included your father and her children).  Without seeing the deed its hard to say but since they were married, there is typically a presumption that a couple takes title to property as joint tenants. That being the case, you and your siblings most probably own it alone.

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