Asked in Estate Planning for North Carolina

Q: Woman died. Left home to one person until his death then to children after his death. How can children secure interests?

A woman owned a home which was in her name only. In her will, she left the will to her husband for the rest of his life then to their children (she had children from a 1st husband, and he had children from a 1st wife). How can all of the children secure their interests? If the home is put into the man's name, when he dies, he can just leave the home to his children (leaving hers out), right? Thank you.

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2 Lawyer Answers

Ben F Meek III

  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Oklahoma City, OK

A: You need to take a copy of her Will to an experience probate lawyer. If the property was her separate property at the time she married her new spouse, she kept it separate, and she left him a life estate in it by her Will, then he most likely received from her only a life estate in the property with the remainder interest in her children. This means that her husband would have a present interest in the property for the rest of his life, but when he dies his interest would cease and the remaindermen would become the sole owners. He would have no right to pass along any interest in it. Have an attorney in your state confirm that she had a valid Will that created such a life estate and to confirm that a probate decree specified this distribution. Many lawyers offer free initial consultations. Good luck.

Angela L. Haas

  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Raleigh, NC
  • Licensed in North Carolina

A: No. If she left the property to him for his life, then all he has is a "Life Estate" interest in the property, meaning, at this death, the property goes to her children. He cannot sell the property outright, either. He can only sell what he has, which is a life interest, so whoever buys it would get the right to possess the property for the husband's lifetime.

He may have rights to other property, as well. Have him contact a probate attorney to learn more.

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