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Thomas McJD
Thomas McJD, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 6516
Experience:  Wills, Trusts, Probate & other Estate Matters
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My father passed away about 4 years ago. He didnt leave a

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My father passed away about 4 years ago. He didn't leave a will. He had 3 kids (including myself). My father was married at the time he passed, but him and his wife did not have any kids together. He and my step-mother purchased a house together. My step-mother lived in the house for a while after my dad passed, and then the house burnt down. She was having the house rebuilt and I guess she ran out of money because it was never completed. It has been sitting there idle for over 2 years. In the meantime, my step-mother had a stroke and was in the hospital for a while. . When she went home, she got provider services and had a guy, Michael, as her caretaker. I just found out today that my step-mother signed the property over to Michael. Is this legal? If not, what can we do about it?

I have a copy of the original deed and a section in it states:

"To Have And To Hold the above described premises, together with all and singular the rights and appurtenances thereto in anywise belonging unto the said Barry Ward (my father) and wife, Ruthie Ward (step-mother) their heirs and assigns forever, and we do hereby bind ourselves, our heirs, executors and administrators, to Warrant and Forever Defend, all and singular the said premises unto the said Barry Ward and wife, Ruthie Ward, their heirs and assigns, against every person whomsoever lawfully claiming, or to claim the same, or any part thereof."


Hi, I will be happy to assist you, and it is my goal to make you a very satisfied customer! This may take a few minutes, so thanks for your patience.


Does the deed refer to them in the first paragraph as "joint tenants" or "joint tenants with right of survivorship"?


The deed was drawn up in 1974, I don't see anything referring to them as tenants of any kind.


If it doesn't mention anything about joint tenancy, then it is community property held as tenants in common. For an intestate estate, property is distributed 1/2 to the surviving spouse (the 1/2 she already owned) and 1/2 to your father's children, including you. Thus, she would only own half and could not transfer full legal title to anyone. She would only be able to convey her 1/2 of the community property. You would need a local estate/probate attorney to assist you with probating your father's estate so that you and your siblings could receive your 1/2 share of the home.


If the property had been held as joint tenants, then all interest would have automatically passed to your step-mother on your father's death and she would have the right to do what she wanted with the property. But if the deed doesn't make specific reference to a joint tenancy, then there is no joint tenance.


Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX a lot!

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