Q: i own my home with my ex who died. His wife said the house is part of his estate. How does that affect me?
He hasn't live here in 10 years. I thought ownership would just transfer to me.
A: People can jointly own property several ways. If married, they can own in Maryland as tenants by the entirety, joint tenants with rights of survivorship or as tenants in common. The way these types of co-ownership transfer at the death of one of the owners is very different. When a joint tenant dies, the surviving owner(s) owns all at the first person's death. When a tenant in common dies, their estate owns whatever belonged to the person who died.
By operation of law, property a husband and wife own together as "Tenants by the Entirety" during their marriage changes at divorce to "Tenants in Common" which means each owner owns half. When one tenant in common dies, their 1/2 (assuming there are 2 owners each owning equally) goes through the deceased person's estate.
All that being said, you are strongly encouraged to consult with an attorney who can review not only the deed but also your court paperwork. Most of the time a divorce will say what happens to jointly owned property. If the divorce decree required one spouse to sign over the property to the other, the survivor might want to try and enforce that earlier decree.
While not legal advice, I hope this general information helps.
A: It depends how the house is titled. If you own your house as joint tenants with right of survivorship with your ex at the time he died, then you are the sole owner and his estate has no claim. However, if by "ex" you mean "ex-husband" and you owned the house as "tenants by the entireties" but never re-titled the house after your divorce, and there was no separation agreement or court order that transferred your ex-husband's interest in the house to you, then by operation of law the property converts automatically to "tenants in common." What that means is, you each own 50% of the property, separate from the other, and when your ex died his half passes under his estate to his heirs, or pursuant to his will. If he left his estate to his new wife, she now owns his half of the house. I suggest you see a lawyer to sort this out.
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