Asked in Probate

Q: I live in California I've been married for 35 years my husband died on Saturday the house is solely in his name help!

I have two grown children and the deed says that the house is solely in his name but this has been our marital home for 18 years what do I do

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2 Lawyer Answers
Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Probate Lawyer
  • Crossville, TN

A: Get yourself to a probate attorney. If the house is the only asset that needs to be retitled, it is entirely possible, depending on other factors, that a spousal property petition will do the trick. It really depends on whether the house was truly your husband's separate property or was actually community property. The name on the title is not determinative. If it was his separate property, however, you might have to share with other relatives.

Theodore David Vicknair Sr.
Theodore David Vicknair Sr.
Answered
  • Probate Lawyer
  • Mandeville, LA

A: I am sorry to hear this. You will have to speak with a California lawyer, as I am only licensed in Louisiana.

In my state (Louisiana, which is a community property state, like California), if the house was acquired during the marriage, the house is community property. It does not matter how it is titled. It is presumed to be community property if acquired during the marriage. It sounds like it was since you have been married for 35 years and it has been your marital home for 18.

Under the law of my state, and I suspect yours (since both of our states have a community property regieme), if it is community property, you would have the right to half the house and the right to use your late spouse's half the house until your death or remarriage. But California might differ.

There may be a quirk that provides that if the house was acquied in one spouse's name that it is the separate property of the spouse whose name it is titled in. So I urge you to seek counsel from a California lawyer. If this is the case, you can ask you kids to just donate all or a portion of the house to you.

I hope this helps.

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