Philipsburg, PA asked in Divorce, Estate Planning and Real Estate Law for Pennsylvania

Q: In the state of Pennsylvania, if I own a property before marriage and get divorced later is that property in jeopardy?

My husband and daughter are co-owners on the deed for the property that we currently have 2 homes on. They have owned this property for 9 years. My daughter is getting married in July. My question is 2 fold. 1. If my husband dies before me, does his share become mine? 2. If my daughter divorces, will her husband have and claim to the property?

1 Lawyer Answer
Stephen M. Asbel
Stephen M. Asbel
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Licensed in Pennsylvania

A: To completely answer your question, I would need more information. Concerning the first part of your question, what happens in the event of your husband dying before you, it depends upon the form of shared titled your husband and daughter have on this property. If your husband and daughter own the property as joint tenants with right of survivorship (JTWROS), then in the event of your husband's death, your daughter would automatically become sole owner of the property. Note the deed would have to contain language stating it is JTWROS. If there is no such specific language in the deed, then otherwise, your husband and daughter own the property as tenants in common (TIC). If the ownership is TIC, then if your husband dies, his half (or whatever percentage the deed says he owns) would pass through his estate in accordance with his will, if he has a will. If your husband does not have a will, it would pass by the intestacy law which would divide the estate between the deceased person's surviving spouse and the deceased person's children.

If your daughter gets divorced and the title of the property has remained as it is, your daughter's share is not subject to division in the divorce except that to the extent that your daughter's fraction of the property has increased in value, the amount of her value increase is subject to being divided along with whatever other assets might be considered marital property. This does not necessarily mean your daughter's husband would get something from the property as that would depend upon what other assets there are and a long list of factors a court uses to determine equitable distribution in a divorce which would be too lengthy to go into in this format.

To avoid uncertainty regarding this possibility, you might suggest to your daughter that she consult with an attorney about getting a prenuptial (before the wedding) agreement to address. A written agreement can assure that this property will not be impacted in the event of a divorce.

For more specific advice and information, you should consult an attorney who is experienced in these areas.

Joshua N. Daly agrees with this answer

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