New Lenox, IL asked in Real Estate Law for Wisconsin

Q: If 3 people are on a deed for a house in WI joint tenancy and one person dies. The person who died

has debt. Can creditors come after his portion of house?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Thomas B. Burton
Thomas B. Burton
  • Eau Claire, WI
  • Licensed in Wisconsin

A: If the creditor's lien or mortgage was recorded prior to the joint tenant's death, the property will pass subject to the lien. There is a Termination of Decedent's Interest Form you can file with the Register of Deeds to remove the joint tenant's name from the title to the property. I suggest working with an attorney to complete this process and discussing this question in further detail with that attorney at that time. If no lien was ever recorded before the joint tenant's death, then the debt will likely be owed by the decedent's probate estate (property passing under the Will, or if there was no Will then according to the laws of intestacy), and not from the property held as joint tenancy.

Here is the statute on what happens to a lien or mortgage after the death of a joint tenant:

700.24  Death of a joint tenant; effect of liens. A real estate mortgage, a security interest under ch. 409, or a lien under s. 72.86 (2), 1985 stats., or s. 71.91 (5) (b), or ch. 49 or 779 on or against the interest of a joint tenant does not defeat the right of survivorship in the event of the death of such joint tenant, but the surviving joint tenant or tenants take the interest such deceased joint tenant could have transferred prior to death subject to such mortgage, security interest, or statutory lien.

700.25  Applicability of chapter. This chapter applies to interests in property in existence on July 1, 1971, and to interests in property created after such date. If application of any provision of this chapter to an interest in property in existence on July 1, 1971, is unconstitutional, it shall not affect application of the provision to an interest in property created after July 1, 1971.

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