Who should inherit my mom’s house?

A step-sister is claiming a share of the reader’s mom’s house after mom quitclaimed the deed to her father

Q: My mother and father were married for over 20 years. During their marriage they bought a house. At some point my mother signed a quitclaim deed and made my father the sole owner of the home. She did this on the condition that he was supposed to leave the home to me. My father passed away and left no will. Now my step-sister from my dad’s side is trying to get one-third of my mom’s house. Is this right?

Should daughter or step-daughter inherit my mom’s house?

A: The reason the law requires people to do things in a certain way is to avoid exactly what you are going through. We don’t know why your mother and father decided to put their home only in your father’s name. But that’s what happened and your father became the sole owner of the home.

While your mom conditioned the transfer on your dad leaving you the home, we can’t know if your dad agreed to those terms. Is there anything in writing attesting to that condition that both of your parents signed?

Inheriting a Home: Options to Consider

There are many unknown circumstances surrounding your mom’s decision to transfer her interest in the home to your dad. The only way an outside observer could decide what to do is to follow the laws of the state in which the property is located.

The laws in most states provide who gets what when someone dies without a will. If your mom is still alive, your mom will likely get an interest in the home. But you and any children your father had, may also get an interest in the home as well.

Will my son inherit the house?

What you’re trying to do is go back in time. That’s tough. It’s hard to clean something up after the fact. In hindsight, your mom should have kept her share of the home or placed the home in a non-revocable trust that would have conveyed the home to you upon your parent’s death. There were other legal options that they could have taken to protect your future ownership of the home.

Unfortunately, you’re left with the circumstances as they are now: your father owned the home at the time of his death and he died without a will.

You’ll need to talk to a probate attorney to discuss your situation. When you sit down with the attorney, you can go over the details of the property transfer from your mother to your father to see if there are any peculiarities in the transaction that could cause the transfer to be voided.

If you find nothing, you at least will have the information as to whether your step-sister is entitled to a third interest in the home, less, or none. Good luck.

Read more about inheriting houses.

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