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socrateaser
socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
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Experience:  Retired (mostly)
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Two years ago our mother passed away from a bout with colon

Customer Question

Two years ago our mother passed away from a bout with colon cancer and left my sister and I her house and a little money. My moms husband of eleven years, step father to my sister and I, was given the option to stay in the house for as long as he wished as long as he made the house payments as the house is not free and clear. In the event he was to move out our moms wishes were to have me her first born son live in the house. My sister was made executor of the will and just days prior to moms death my sister was added to the title on the house. The step father has given notice and my sister does not want me to move in even though I have been agreeable to her terms. The house I helped build is valued at $200,000 + with about $100,000 balance owing. I want to live in the house as my mom wished. What can I legally do?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  socrateaser replied 3 years ago.
Can you tell me how your sister is named on the deed?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
I am not sure as I have not seen the deed but I was there and surmise it was as co-owner to facilitate ease of transfer and for her to be able to continue to make payments to the existing loan.
Expert:  socrateaser replied 3 years ago.
"Co-owner" is not a legal designation. She would have to be either a "tenant in common," or a "joint tenant with rights of survivorship."

If she is the former, then she would have already owned one half of the property at your mother's death, and if your mother left her estate to both you and your sister 50/50, then you would only own 25% (1/2 of 1/2) of the property, because that is all your mother could transfer in her Will. However, as a 25% owner, you have the right to joint possession of the property, and that means that you don't need your sister's permission to move in. You can just move in, and if your sister won't give you the keys, then you can hire a locksmith to change the locks.

But, you can't keep your sister out, either.

If your sister is a "joint tenant w/ RS," then she owns the property outright as her sole and separate property, and there is absolutely nothing that you can legally do to reverse that situation -- which also means you have no right to possession of the property -- period.

So, you may want to get a copy of the deed from the county clerk, and then let me know what it says. That, combined with what your mother's Will states, determines your rights.

Hope this helps and hapy new year (assuming that's possible under the cirucmstances).

socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 34072
Experience: Retired (mostly)
socrateaser and 12 other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Hello. The copy of the trust deed states "joint tenant" with my sisters married name and the will of my mother states the house and 30,000 cd to be equally shared 50/50. I recently spoke with my sister and let her know I wanted to live in the house as my mothers husband is moving out before march first. She considers the house half mine but insists I sign a lease agreement for the amount of the house payment of $1200 to cover the loan payment plus $300 each month to build a fund to cover future repairs. The will does state that I was to live in the house in the event her husband moved but my sister seems to be making that difficult. My mothers husband has been living in the house for the last two years for $600 per month and my sister used the money from the cd to make up the difference against my wishes. What are my options.
Expert:  socrateaser replied 3 years ago.
The copy of the trust deed states "joint tenant" with my sisters married name and the will of my mother states the house and 30,000 cd to be equally shared 50/50. I recently spoke with my sister and let her know I wanted to live in the house as my mothers husband is moving out before march first. She considers the house half mine but insists I sign a lease agreement for the amount of the house payment of $1200 to cover the loan payment plus $300 each month to build a fund to cover future repairs. The will does state that I was to live in the house in the event her husband moved but my sister seems to be making that difficult. My mothers husband has been living in the house for the last two years for $600 per month and my sister used the money from the cd to make up the difference against my wishes. What are my options.

A: Welcome back, and thanks for your updated info. Unfortunately, my response will not be what you want to read. If the deed listed your sister alone as a joint tenant with your mother, and you were not listed, then she is the sole owner of the property, regardless of what the Will states, and she can evict you, after giving you 60 days notice (because you have lived in the property for more than one year).

Because of your sister's ownership, she can require that you sign a lease and pay according to its terms. The fact that she may "consider" the property one half yours, has absolutely no legal effect, unless she actually deeds you one half of the property. So, while her intentions may be genuine, unless they are supported by a quitclaim deed to you for one half of the property, then those intentions are absolutely without value in a court.

You (and your step-father) can try to negotiate whatever you can with your sister -- but, the boXXXXX XXXXXne is that your sister owns the property outright, and unless you can satisfactorily reach a negotiation with her, then she can force you out -- not that she will do this -- but she can, so do not be surprised if she does.

Hope this helps.

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