Litchfield, NH asked in Real Estate Law for Massachusetts

Q: On deceased mother's deed, not mortgage. Renters in place in one of two houses on property. Am I now a landlord?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Christopher Tolley
Christopher Tolley
  • Boston, MA
  • Licensed in Massachusetts

A: First, check the wording of the deed to determine the type of ownership you held with your deceased mother. For example, the deed might say, "X and Y, as joint tenants" or "X and Y, tenants in common," etc. The type of tenancy determines to whom ownership of the property passes in the event of one owner's death. If joint tenants, the property automatically passes to you upon your mother's death without need of probate. If tenants in common, your mother's one half share of the property passes through her estate to whoever she left the property in her will or if no will, by the laws of intestacy. If no tenancy is designated, you are considered to have owned the property as tenants in common. Your mother also may have owned a life estate in the property with you as remainder interest, in which case the property passes to you upon your mother's death without need of probate.

If you owned the property as a joint tenant or remainder after her life estate, you own the property and you are the landlord.

If you owned the property as tenants in common, review your mother's will to see to whom she left the property. If she had no will, her one half interest passed by the laws of intestacy so you may have a one half interest in the property with her other heirs holding the other half. You and your mother's other heirs would collectively be the landlords.

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