Fort Rucker, AL asked in Real Estate Law, Probate and Landlord - Tenant for Alabama

Q: My husband and his late deceased wife were on the deed to house, we are attempting to sell, why can’t we?

They are telling us that because they were married and jointly on the deed that her children have to sign the deed stating the house goes back to my husband who is the original owner of the home before she ever came along, he added her to the deed later. Why are we unable to sell the house without them signing. We are now married and I didn’t think they were entitled to his home. One daughter is willing to sign the other is not. Why do we have to do that?

1 Lawyer Answer
Jack T. Carney
Jack T. Carney
  • Probate Lawyer
  • Birmingham, AL
  • Licensed in Alabama

A: This issue arises a lot and is usually caught by a title company when someone tries to sell a home. I cannot speak to your specific situation without seeing the deeds, but it sounds like what you are hearing is correct (even though I admit it seems terribly unfair).

When your husband added his late wife to the deed, he gave her an ownership interest in the property. It sounds like there was no "survivorship" language (meaning at her death her interest would pass to your husband automatically). Therefore, when she died she owned one-half of the home. In this situation Alabama law states that when a person dies without a Will, one-half of their estate passes to their spouse and one-half passes to their children. Therefore, her children technically own one-fourth of the home. Your subsequent marriage did not change their legal rights and they still have a right to the home (and there consent is needed to pass good title).

The law is what it is, so it may be best to focus on how to get the daughter's consent. In addition, this situation is an example of why it is so important for every person to have a Will. Good luck.

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