I'm a 52 year old woman sharing a house with my 85 year old mother. Both of our names are on the deed, and I would like to know if the home automatically becomes mine when she dies. Do I have to do anything beforehand? I don't want any complications.
Debt Collection Attorney
If you own the house as joint tenants with right of survivorship, then yes the house will automatically become yours.
If you own the house as tenants-in-common, then the right of survivorship is not included. Your mother's half passes through her estate in accordance with her will.
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Estate Planning Attorney
I agree with my colleague, Mr. Thomas, except to add the following:
Many people believe that simply because their "name is on the deed" with someone else, they will automatically receive a parcel of property upon the death of the other guy on the deed. However, as Mr. Thomas has correctly pointed out, it's not just the fact that the name is "on the deed", it's HOW the name is on the deed that makes all the difference.
For this reason, if not for any other, it's wise and prudent to have an attorney look at the deed: to tell you EXACTLY how you and our Mom own the property. If Mom may need long term nursing home care (and Medicaid benefits) at some future date, a visit to a skilled lawyer may be the most important visit you make.
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Also note that even if the house is jointly owned one half will still be subject to PA inheritance Tax. Also, you will not get a complete step up in basis in the house at her death. You would be well served to meet with an estates attorney to get definitive advice for your particular situation.
Hope this helps.
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