Davenport, FL asked in Contracts and Real Estate Law for Florida

Q: My husband & his aunt were deeded a house in MD upon his mother's death over a year and half ago.

Deeded "right of survivorship". Instead of selling the home, the aunt moved in agreeing to pay my husband his share of value. A contract was signed June 2019 and it even went to the Title Co for closing last month. She thought she could take money out of the estate (she's executor) to pay my husband, but his mother's estate was not settled ( a yr in a half later!) so the transfer of money never took place. My husband died 8/23/19. My question is if a contract was signed for her to purchase his share, will that take precedent over the way the house was deeded? In other words, because of the signed contract, will she have to pay his estate for the amount she agreed per the contract regardless of the way it was deeded? Is this something that could possibly lead to litigation? I live in FL, the home is in MD.

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3 Lawyer Answers
Linda Liang
Linda Liang
Answered

A: You said they went for closing but transfer of money was not made. Does that mean the closing didn't occur? I.e, the deed was not delivered? The bottomline is that if the ownership did not shift before your husband passed away, the court might hold that his share passes to your aunt.

Bruce Alexander Minnick agrees with this answer

Bruce Alexander Minnick
Bruce Alexander Minnick
Answered
  • Tallahassee, FL
  • Licensed in Florida

A: If the deed to passed lawfully to the decedent's two next of kin (your husband and his aunt) by right of survivorship--the aunt and you husband had an undivided joint ownership interest in the property. If the aunt and your husband entered into a written contract to allow the aunt to buy your husband's "share" of the property from your husband--from whatever source--then that contract is still enforceable--by either side. In other words, your husband's aunt can still buy your husband's share of the house--from your husband's estate. Unless she performs her side of the contract the two joint owners will stay locked in this stupid battle. Oh--and BTW: your husband's estate is perfectly free to sell his undivided half interest of the property that his aunt apparently wants really badly. Hire a lawyer to enforce your husband's estate's rights.

Seril L Grossfeld
Seril L Grossfeld
Answered
  • Fort Lauderdale, FL

A: Sorry to learn about the recent passing of your husband.

What will depend upon the status of the contract. Whether it was extended and the language as to whether it binds parties if there is a death. Right of survivorship is a matter of law, not determined by contract or probate rules when one title holder dies. What happens in this situation is a close call and could very well vary from state to state. Your best bet is to hire an attorney in Maryland to advise you how to proceed. There is also the question of how Florida elective share statute in your husband's Florida estate may affect his pre death interest in the property, so you need a Florida probate attorney as well.

This may be alot to consider on top of your husband's recent passing, but putting it off may also affect your ability to enforce either your husband's or your interest in this property.

Good luck.

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