Q: I just read your response to the child who’s father had passed and she wanted to know how his home, owned with his current wife (the child’s step mother), would be handled. There was no will.

In your answer you state that the ownership it depends on how the property was owned. While you mention joint tenancy, title can be held as tenancy-by-the-entirety, which would mean the property would automatically transfer to the step- mother without going through probate.

Tenancy-by-the-entirety is not “available” in each state, and it is only available to married couples, but I teach real estate classes in the Northeast and it is well known in this area so I thought I’d mention there is another possibility depending on where the couple lived.

A: Thanks for pointing out that in some states, you can choose tenancy-by-the-entirety. Since it isn’t available everywhere, and since in this situation the outcome is essentially the same as joint tenancy with rights of survivorship (i.e. the stepmom gets it all), I didn’t mention it.

But thanks for writing and joining the conversation.

Click here to see the original article, How is Property Divided Without a Will?

Published: May 28, 2007