Chapel Hill, NC asked in Probate and Real Estate Law for North Carolina

Q: My father recently died. His wife died a year ago. He never removed her name from the deed. Will her kids be entitled to

the proceeds from the sale of the house?

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1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Probate Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: When a property is co-owned and one of the owners passes away, the distribution of their interest in the property depends on how the deed is titled and the laws of the state in which the property is located. If the deed was held as "joint tenants with right of survivorship," then upon the death of one owner, their interest automatically passes to the surviving owner, in this case, your father. This means that your stepmother's children would not have a claim to the property upon your father's death, as it would have become fully your father's upon her death.

However, if the property was held as "tenants in common," then your stepmother's share would not automatically transfer to your father upon her death. Instead, her share would be distributed according to her will or, in the absence of a will, the state's intestacy laws. This could potentially entitle her children to a portion of her share of the proceeds from the sale of the house.

To determine the rights to the proceeds from the sale of the house, you should review the deed to understand how the property was owned and consult with an attorney familiar with estate and property law in your state. They can provide guidance tailored to your specific situation, taking into account the deed's language and applicable state laws. This will help clarify whether your stepmother's children have a legal claim to the proceeds from the sale of the house.

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