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TJ, Esq.
TJ, Esq., Attorney
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 11884
Experience:  JD, MBA
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We refinanced our home while we were domestic partners. I

Customer Question

We refinanced our home while we were domestic partners. I currently own 99 percent; she, 1 percent. We believe the term "tenants in common" applies to us, even though we are now legally married. Question is, if I die, does my wife inherit my ownership in the home, or could my sister fight for it in court? And if a legal dispute is initiated, what is the likely outcome?

SECOND: What could we do to prevent any legal disputes? (I.e., Would a will end the possibility of the dispute, would a living trust work better, or would something else work better?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  TJ, Esq. replied 4 years ago.
Hello and thank you for allowing me the opportunity to assist you.

If you were to die without a will, then your sister could indeed have a valid claim part of your estate (which includes your share of the house) since it was apparently obtained prior to the marriage and would be considered separate property rather than community property. The law states that the spouse is only entitled to one-half of separate property, and a sister could inherit the other half. You could resolve that by creating a will that gives your separate property to your wife. The aforementioned law only applies when there is no will that directs otherwise. You could also sign an agreement that turns the house into community property, since your spouse receives all community property even without a will. The will is a better idea, however, since you can have it encompass all separate property rather than merely the house.

If you would like any additional information or need clarification, please do not hesitate to ask!

Also, I strive to be as helpful as possible so that you are satisfied. Accordingly, please remember to give me positive feedback (doing so does not end our discussion). If you feel the need to rate me poorly, please stop and instead of rating me, reply via the REPLY or CONTINUE CONVERSATION button with the issue that you have. I will be happy to continue our discussion and do everything that I can to provide you with the service that you seek.

Thank you.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX question of a living trust persists. If we signed a living trust, would one of us have to go through probate? Same question, please, for having a will.
Expert:  TJ, Esq. replied 4 years ago.
Hi again.

Yes, a living trust would work as well since it would specify who would get the house, and it would avoid probate. You could also have the trust encompass other property as well. The most thorough approach to estate planning would be to have sign an agreement which transfers the house to community property, create a living trust which tries to encompass everything, and also create a will to catch any of the leftovers that have been missed. If you would like any additional information or need clarification, please do not hesitate to ask!

Also, I strive to be as helpful as possible so that you are satisfied. Accordingly, please remember to give me positive feedback (doing so does not end our discussion). If you feel the need to rate me poorly, please stop and instead of rating me, reply via the REPLY or CONTINUE CONVERSATION button with the issue that you have. I will be happy to continue our discussion and do everything that I can to provide you with the service that you seek.

Thank you.
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