Who really owns this house?!?
A: Real property owned in a true joint tenancy (i.e., title will show something like, "Bill Seller, Grantor, hereby grants to John Doe and Jane Doe, as joint tenants with rights of survivorship
, the real property herein described as follows:"), instantly transfers to the surviving joint tenant at the death of the first joint tenant. A divorce does not severe a joint tenancy and create a tenancy in common, without some express act of the parties or the court, which would be found in the divorce decree or marital settlement agreement.
Assuming a true joint tenancy, and no severance as part of the divorce judgment, then your mother owns the property outright, and no further legal action is required.
However, if the property title shows ownership as "...husband and wife," or as "tenants by the entireties," then a divorce severs the joint tenancy, and the parties become tenants in common after divorce -- which means that each party owns 50% of the property and that interest descends to that party's heirs
/beneficiaries at death, and not to the surviving tenant.
Most likely, the second scenario is what has taken place with your mother's property. Otherwise, you wouldn't be asking the question, because title would have transferred without any dispute.How do we fix the title?
A: You will need to ask the probate court to appoint a personal representative, for the sole purpose of transferring title according to the provisions of the Will.
For a competent probate attorney referral, see this link.
Hope this helps.