Asked in Probate for Iowa

Q: A brother and sister owned a house she died and didn't have a will he wants to sell the house but she has kids alive

He is in the system as a felon and wants to sell the house in his name the deceased sister didn't have a will but does have 3 grown kids can he legally sell it since she had no will

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1 Lawyer Answer
Ben F Meek III
Ben F Meek III
  • Probate Lawyer
  • Oklahoma City, OK

A: That depends on several factors not mentioned in your question. The first is: how are brother’s and sister’s ownership interests shown on the deed? If they owned as Joint Tenants With Right of Survivorship, the brother now remains as the sole owner. However, even if this is true, any minor children (under age 18) of the deceased sister that were living in the property as their residence when she died may be entitled to live in the property until the youngest turns 18 or they (or their legal guardian) abandons their homestead interests. Brother could not sell it under such circumstances without consent.

However, if brother and sister owned the property as Tenants in Common or Co-Tenants, the decedent’s interest would have to pass to her heirs through probate proceedings, and her heirs would become Co-Tenants with the brother. He could only sell his interest to a buyer willing to become a Co-Tenant with the heirs (unlikely).

If brother and sister were joint tenants with right of survivorship and all of her children were over 18 when she died, then the brother is now probably the sole owner of the property and may do with it as he pleases.

It is very important that her heirs consult an experienced probate lawyer as soon as possible to review the ownership and give legal guidance. Many offer free initial consultations.

PS: My comments here are for general information only and are not legal advice about any specific matter. Nor do they create an attorney-client relationship between us. Consult a lawyer in your state for legal advice.

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