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

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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

Answers:

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

Answered 9 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).


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