Q: My mother-in-law did a quit claim of her house to my husband 10 years ago. He has suddenly passed away and we are unsure what to do now. Thank you.
A: My condolences on your loss. If you and your husband were married at the time of his death, and he had a will, and you are the beneficiary of everything he owned in his will, then you probably own the house and everything else he owned.
That probably won’t make your mother-in-law comfortable, especially if she has been living in the house. Then again, she did decide to use a quit claim deedA Quit Claim Deed is a deed that operates to release any interestInterest is money charged for the use of borrowed funds. Usually expressed as an interest rate, it is the percentage of the total loan charged annually for the use of the funds. in a property that a person may have, without a representation that he or she actually has a right in that property. For example, Sally may use a quit claim deed to grant Bill her interest in the White House, in Washington, DC, although she may not actually own, or have any rights to, that particular house. to transfer ownershipOwnership is the absolute right to use, enjoy, and dispose of property. You own it! out of her name – probably with the idea that she was protecting the house in case she needed to go on MedicaidMedicaid comprises state public assistance programs to persons who are unable to pay for health care. Title XIX of the federal Social Security Act provides matching federal funds for financing state Medicaid programs.. That’s a common mistake seniors often make.
If your husband died intestate, that is, without a will, then a court will decide what you get and what your children, or his mother, will receive.
The key thing is to decide what you want to do about your mother-in-law. If she has been living in the house rent-free or paying only the expenses associated with the property (such as the mortgageA Mortgage is a document granting a lien on a home in exchange for financing granted by a lender. The mortgage is the means by which the lender secures the loan and has the ability to foreclose on the home., if there is one, real estateReal Estate is land and anything permanently attached to it, such as buildings and improvements. property taxes, homeowners insurance, and maintenance costs), you will have to decide if you want to continue to allow her to do that. If you do, and she decides to stay, you should consider creating a lease that spells out exactly what she is supposed to do.
Depending on your conversation with your mother-in-law, another option is to quit claim the property back to her. If she doesn’t want the property in her name, but wants to make sure her grandchildren (her son’s children) get the property, and you feel like assuring her, you can set up a trust that names the children as beneficiaries.
Keep in mind that under your state’s laws, you and your children may have already become joint owners of the property. Please talk to an estate attorney who can help you figure out the steps you have to take now that your husband has passed.