How do I put my home in just my name since my husband is deceased?

Full Question:

My husband passed away over 2 years ago. I would like to have our house deed in my name only, the house is paid for. Is this something I can do through Legal Zoom?
03/25/2009   |   Category: Wills and Es... ยป Probate   |   State: Pennsylvania   |   #15757


The answer depends on whether the estate has already been probated and the type of ownership owned by the husband. For example, if the property was owned by husband and wife only as joint tenants, the husband's share would transfer automatically outside of death through survivorship rights. In such cases, the procedure for reissuing the deed in the survivng tenant's name varies by local recording office. Typically, a copy of the death certificate is required.

If the property owned by the husband was left in a will, or passes under state intestacy laws, the property interest could be transferred by a fiduciary deed signed by the executor or administrator of the estate in the probate process.

If State law, which varies by state, controls the creation of a joint tenancy in real property. Joint tenancy property passes outside of probate; however, it may be severed so that the property becomes part of one person's estate and passes to that person's heirs. Each joint tenant has an equal, undivided interest in the whole property, and may enter onto, take possession of the whole, occupy, and use every portion of the common property at all times and in all circumstances. All joint tenants, and their spouses, must sign deeds and contracts to transfer or sell real estate.

On the other hand, if the deed provides for ownership as tenants in common, each owner will own a portion of the property, which may be unequal, but each will have the right to possess the entire property. There is no "right of survivorship" if one of the tenants in common dies, and each interest may be separately sold, mortgaged or willed to another. Upon the death of a tenant in common there must be a court supervised administration of the estate of the deceased to transfer the interest in the tenancy in common.

When a person dies, their assets are distributed in the probate process. If a person dies with a will, an executor is named to handle the distribution of the estate. If the person dies without a will, the court appoints an administrator to distribute the decedent's assets according to the state's laws of intestacy. In cases where the decedent didn't own property valued at more than a certain amount, which varies by state, the estate may go through a small estate administration process, rather than the formal probate process. To dispose of the real property interests of the decedent, the executor or administrator executes an executor's deed or fiduciary deed. For example, if a person who is a joint tenant dies without a will, the administrator of the estate can execute a fiduciary deed transferring their interest to the remaining joint tenants, or other person entitled to receive the interest under intestacy laws of the state.

In the case of a life tenant who holds a life estate, when the life tenant dies, their interest may pass to the remaindermen. Title may also return to the person giving or deeding the property or to his/her surviving children or descendants upon the death of the life tenant--this is called "reversion."

Ask Legal Question

Your Privacy is 100% Confidential!