Q: Four years ago, my stepmother signed a quit claim deed to her and my father’s home. The quit claim was filed with courts. My father recently passed away. Since they were still married when he passed, does she still have claim to the home or would it fall to me and my two sisters?

A: Simply signing and recording a quit claim deed doesn’t tell the whole story.

To whom did she quit claim the property? Did she quit claim her entire interest in the home to your dad? If so, then his will would dictate what would happen to the property.

If the will dictates that she is entitled to all of his assets, then she’d inherit the property from him. If his will says that all of his assets go to you and your sisters, then she may not have any ownership interest in the property. Then you’d have to figure out how to either allow her to live in the property, perhaps renting it from you, or kick her out and sell it.

If your father’s will states that his assets are to be divided between his known children and step-children, and your stepmother has kids, then you’ll have to contend with some additional heirs.

The place to start is with the paperwork. Please find a copy of the document. Then, visit an estate attorney who can help you go through your father’s will (assuming he has one) and the distribution of assets.

July 21, 2008.