If my husband dies, are my step-children entitled to the equity in my house?

Question Details:My husband has 2 children from a previous marriage and is in his 70's. If he dies do I have to sell our house, which is also under my name, in order to split the equity with his children? He does not have a Will.

Asked 5 years ago under Wills, Trusts, Probate | 8007 Views | More Legal Topics

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J.M.A., Member in Good Standing of the Connecticut Bar | FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney Answered 5 years ago

The house, which is in both your names, is considered joint ownership.  Joint tenants has what are known as rights of survivorship.  Rights of survivorship means that both of the joint tenants own the home while they are alive. The person that out lives the other gets their share of the home.  In this case, if your husband dies and you are joint tenants (which it sounds like you are), you get the whole house since you survived him.  Your husband's children from the prior marriage will not be able to get any interest in the home as a result of the way a joint tenancy operates.  Similarly, as his wife, you are likely going to inherit your husband's estate.

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar | FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney Answered 5 years ago

With respect to the rest of your husband's estate (excluding the house and other jointly held/designated assets), if he dies without a Will then he will die "intestate".  As such the intestacy laws of the state where he resides at he time of his death will prevail.  For example, in CO, if a decedent is married state law provides that the surviving spouse will receive the majority of the estate, however, the actual amount varies.  In most cases, the decedent's children also receive a share of the estate as well.  You should consult with an estate planning attorney in your area as to all of this.

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