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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Family Law
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Experience:  Attorney with experience in family law.
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If spouses jointly own a home in New York, what happens when

Customer Question

If spouses jointly own a home in New York, what happens when one spouse dies? Does full ownership go to surviving spouse, or does tha house need to be sold, so that children get their share?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.


I'm Lucy, and I'd be happy to answer your questions today.

The answer depends on how the house is titled. Check your deed to make sure what it says.

Tenants by the Entirety: The surviving spouse becomes the sole owner.

Joint Tenants with right of Survivorship: The surviving spouse becomes the sole owner.

Tenants in Common: This depends on whether the deceased spouse left a will, but if there isn't one, the children will wind up sharing the deceased spouse's share with the surviving spouse. The surviving spouse could buy the children out, or the home could be sold.

A person who wants to be able to will their share of the marital home to his or her children would need to have the house titled as Tenants in Common. Another option would be to have the house legally owned by a trust, with the children as the beneficiaries. A trust could also be structured to ensure that the surviving spouse could remain in the house during his or her lifetime, if the spouses wanted to do that.

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