Q: My brother and I purchased our family's cabin and acreage years ago. Can his wife take over ownership if he were to die?
We purchased the property from our grandparents prior to their passing long before either of us were married. Previously, my brother was advised that in the event of divorce his wife would not be able to acquire ownership as it was property he held prior to marriage, and she has contributed nothing financially for upgrades or refurbishing, etc. If my brother were to pass away and nothing was mentioned in his will, would the wife be able to acquire his 50% ownership, or would it go the the remaining deed holder?
A: You would need a lawyer to review your deed and advise you.
As a general principle, if your deed says that you own the property as joint tenants with right of survivorship, if one dies, the property passes automatically to the other deed holder. On the other hand, if the deed says nothing about right of survivorship, the property is owned as tenants in common, and the 50% interest of each would pass by that person’s Will or, if none, through that person’s estate under the laws that apply if a person has no Will.
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