If my husband dies without a will, will the house go to me or his mother?

Asked over 4 years ago - Union City, PA

My husband and I have 2 children together, and he has custody of his daughter from a previous relationship as well. His mother also lives with us, by his choice not by necessity (she owns property elsewhere). I am not on the deed to the house, which was purchased a year ago, nor does my husband have a Will. If my husband dies, who gets the house? He has insurance that covers the outstanding mortgage on the house in the event of his death, but do I get the claim to it as surviving spouse, or does his mother or children supercede that if they outlive him? Do I have legal grounds to either keep the house and kick my mother-in-law out, or sell it? My husband is facing some risky surgeries, but refuses to get a Will because he assumes I will get the house if he dies, is he correct?

Attorney answers (3)

  1. David M. Frees III

    Pro

    Contributor Level 9

    Answered . Your husband is not correct. Under Pennsylvania law, if he owns the house and dies without will intestacy laws will define who gets his property and in what percentages. As for the insurance, the beneficiary designation will control unless it is payable to his estate. In that case, the intestacy laws will again split his estate between you and his children.

    Finally, if you are going to transfer the house, and it is subject to a mortgage, you might want to see an attorney to make sure that the transfer does not accelerate the mortgage.

    This does not constitute la legal opinion or legal advice. Please see your own lawyer and provide the specific facts of your case to your adviser.

  2. Theodore W. Robinson

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . He's right, in part. You and your child will inherit the house in various percentages. I suggest you insist upon a Will that gives you the house or put you on the deed with a right of survivorship.

    Good luck to you and your family.

  3. Justin Jay Watling

    Contributor Level 15

    Answered . You need to check with a PA attorney who can tell you what the PA Statute of Descent and Disrtibution provides specifically.

    I will guess that your mother-in-law will have no interest in the house, but that you and all three children or you and his daughter) will end up owning fractional interests. If any of the kids are minors, that will further complicate matters if it comes to needing the sell the house.

    The most direct path is a survivorship or TOD deed, but those may not handle the mortgage issue they way he desires.

    Legal counsel must be consulted directly.

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