Reston, VA asked in Estate Planning and Real Estate Law for Virginia

Q: If my old but current will says give my house to my kids, but I title the house jointly with my fiance, what happens?

Will that directive be ignored and my fiance gains ownership as surviving owner? Or will the will override the title? I understand that I should have the two (title and will) in sync, but in the interim, what would happen upon my death?

1 Lawyer Answer
Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Potomac, MD
  • Licensed in Virginia

A: The two should be in synch, because having them inconsistent can be used to confess and delay proceedings when everyone needs certainty and dispatch. The inconsistency can be used as evidence that your testamentary intent was uncertain or that you were confused. Unless you can be proven incompetent, the deed to your wife or to the marriage will act before and outside the estate, so it will technically come first. But the inconsistency might be evidence that you intended to balance the total grant to the kid’s by giving her the house as an advancement against the estate. That will then get more confusing when we throw in spousal share, and the net result might be that some lucky lawyer gets most of the inheritance. Fix it now. Cheaply.

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