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Ask Legalease Your Own Question
Legalease, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 16215
Experience:  15 yrs experience: Elder Law, Wills, Social Security Issues
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My in-laws put their home in their oldest sons name 20 years

Customer Question

My in-laws put their home in their oldest sons name 20 years ago or more to protect them from losing it if they where to have to be put in a nursing home. A will was also drawn up. My mother in-law passed away in 2004 and nothing was done with will. My father in law is now 93 and oldest son say he is going to put dad in nursing home and sale the house and that will is void because of mothers passing. That it is no longer dads house but his. He refuses to show proof of ownership or a copy of the will stating its none of anyone's business. What if anything can be done now?
Submitted: 5 months ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  Legalease replied 5 months ago.
Hello there ---Any of you can go to the county recorder of deeds office and give the clerk there the property address and the clerk will assist you in getting a copy of the last deed that was written on that house and then once you see the deed you will be able to see who actually is named as the owner on the deed document recorded with the county. If your in laws truly put the house in the name of the eldest son twenty years ago, then the last deed on record should be a quitclaim deed or a warranty deed signed by both inlaws (his parents) transferring the property over to him. If that is what happened here, then your brother in law is the legal owner of the house and has been the legal owner of the house for the past twenty years and there really is not much that any of you can do to contest the fact that the eldest son is the owner of the house. Under the law, he can do with the house exactly what he wants to do with the house and even if there is a will that states that the house is to be sold and divided or that it is to be split up or anything the will says regarding the house is absolutely NOT legally valid because the minute that your in laws signed a deed to grant the property to the eldest son the inlaws lost ALL ownership rights in the property and the eldest son was (and still is) legally permitted to do with the house whatever he wants to do with the house. I truly wish I could give you better news than this, but the law is very clear and if a deed is signed over to a new owner, the last owner loses all ownership rights to the property (in reality, the eldest could have sold the house out from under your inlaws at any point over the last 20 years that he has been the legal owner of the property). If, however, the house is still in the names of your inlaws and was never actually signed over to the eldest son by a deed instrument recorded at the county recorder of deeds offices, then your father in law is most likely the legal owner of the house, despite what it says in a will drawn up by the both of them more than 20 years ago. If the property is still in the names of your inlaws and your father in law is being moved to a nursing home, then the state and federal medicare and medicaid health insurance providers will most likely step forward and try to make a claim on the house and if no one in the family actually lived in the house with your father in law to keep him in his home for the five years leading up to the date that he enters the nursing home, then none of their children will be able to make a claim on the house and it will likely be sold to pay for nursing home debts (if a family member lives in the house for the past five years to take care of your father in law, then that one family member is entitled to make a claim against medicare/medicaid for ownership of the house once your father in law is in the nursing home -- the law permits this to happen so that the person who acted as caretaker to your father in law will not end up homeless and on the street AND as a sort of payback to that particular person for acting as the caretaker for all of those years leading up to the nursing home entry). So, under either circumstance -- (A) if the deed was signed over to the eldest son, or (B) if the eldest son lived in the house as a caretaker of your father in law for the last five years --- then your brother in law has positioned himself nicely to be the owner of the house. -However, as a family member it is still the right of other brothers and sisters to question what is happening with the house and to see the will and have it reviewed by a family lawyer to determine whether or not the original will has any validity now at all (the inlaws may have prepared individual wills or they may have prepared a joint will (a joint will sets forth what happens to the property when the first spouse dies and then what happens after the second spouse dies). I am a but suspicious of this entire thing because your brother in law is being so secretive about showing the deed to the house to the rest of the family members and he is being deceptive and secretive about what the contents of the will truly were and whether or not this was a joint will (in which case many of the statements in the joint will are still valid and applicable to the father in laws life and inheritance from the mother's part of the original will). Under the circumstances, my suggestion is that one or more of you contact a local family law and probate and estate law attorney who practices in the county where the house is located and your mother in law lived and died. For a few hundred dollars the attorney can write a letter to the eldest son asking him to produce the deed and the will documents so that you all can have the lawyer review everything and decide for yourselves whether or not there is anything in an ESTATE worth pursuing in these matters. You can find such a lawyer by contacting your local county bar association and asking for a referral to a lawyer who handles such cases and matters in the local county courthouses and the bar association should be able to provide you with several names of attorneys in that immediate area who specialize in this area and who may be able to help out to at least get the documents and review them and to tell you where all of the rest of you legally stand in these matters. -Please let me know if you have any further questions on this matter. If not, can you please press a positive rating above in the ratings section so that I will be paid for my time assisting you this morning? Pressing the middle star or the fourth or fifth star to the right of the middle star each register as a positive rating, insuring that I will be paid and credited for the time spent assisting you . Bonuses are not necessary but are always appreciated and can be entered in the pop up bonus box that will appear after a positive rating is pressed in the star rating section above. Your question will not close even after pressing a positive rating and you can return to ask related follow up questions regarding the same topic and question for several weeks after you have pressed a positive rating above. THANK YOU VERY MUCH !!! MARY
Expert:  Legalease replied 5 months ago.
Hello again ---Do you have any more questions for me? If not, can you please press a positive rating above these answer boxes so I will be paid for my time? I truly am paid NOTHING unless you press a positive rating above (the middle, fourth or fifth star above are positive ratings). Doing so will not cost you additional money -- it simply operates as the trigger to Just Answer to pay me for my time assisting you. THANK YOU VERY MUCH !!-MARY

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