Who has the right to jointly owned land after both owners die?

UPDATED: Sep 15, 2011

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Who has the right to jointly owned land after both owners die?

My brother died 2 years ago. He and his girlfriend had land together; she kept the land in both names. Now she has died. Her family has assumed the land is theirs. I want to know if I have a right to my brother’s land since he did die first.

Asked on September 15, 2011 under Estate Planning, North Carolina


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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Who has the right to this property depends on just how title was held.

If it was held a s "joint tenants with rights of survivorship" then upon your brothers death, his girlfriend would have taken sole ownership. So upon her death, her beneficiaries/heirs would inherit the property.

If title was held as "tenants in common" (or if there was no designation tenants in common would have been presumed), then upon your brother's death his beneficiaries/heirs would be entitled to his share the property. The other half would pass to his fiance's estate (i.e. beneficiaries/heirs).

So if your brother had a Will and you were named to receivethe property, you would be entitled to that bequest. If your brother died without a Will (i.e. "intestate") and left no surviving spouse or children, then as a sibling you would inherit his share in the property (equally along with your siblings, if any).

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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