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My husband died 8 years ago and our house was joint with right of survivorship. do i have to change it over to my name?

Andover, MA |

i am thinking of selling it.

Attorney Answers 5


  1. If you owned the house jointly and you had a right of survivorship, the house passes to you directly as a matter of law and you don't need to do anything.

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  2. No, you do not have to do anything to, as you say, "change it over to" your name. You own it by operation of law. However, there are a couple of things that a lawyer will need to do to transfer ownership to a buyer if you sell it. You should have a lawyer represent you when you sell it. You should also have your own Will now that you own it individually.


  3. You own the house outright as a matter of law, but before selling it you will have to record a certified copy of your husband's certificate of death as well as an affidavit that you remained married at his passing, in order to have the proper "chain of title" to sign the deed over on your own. As noted by my colleague, the lawyer who handles the closing can take care of this at that time.

    Attorney Rosenberg is admitted to practice in Connecticut and Massachusetts, and currently practices in South-Central Connecticut with an emphasis on estate planning, elder law, probate, and tax matters. He may be contacted confidentially by email at Scott@ScottRosenbergLaw.com or by phone at (203) 871-3830. All correspondence through this website appears publicly, is not confidential, and does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Atty. Rosenberg. Discretion should always be employed when posting personal information online. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ All online content provided by Atty. Rosenberg on this and other websites is provided for general informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice. All content is general in nature. Attorneys are unable to ask the questions necessary to fully understand the legal issues faced by any particular poster. Postings and responses to questions only provide general insights on the topic discussed. They are not tailored to any reader’s specific situation, will not be accurate in all states, and are never updated or maintained to reflect changes in the law. No person should take action based on the information provided by anyone on Avvo.com or any other law-themed website without first consulting a local attorney with significant experience in your area of concern. Persuant to Circular 230, no online content may be used by any person to avoid taxes or penalties under the Internal Revenue Code.


  4. I am assuming the real estate is located in Massachusetts. It would be sufficient to record your husband's death certificate at the relevant Registry of Deeds to reflect his death and let the world know that you have sole authority to convey the property. You will likely have an issue with an estate tax lien as well. In Massachusetts, when an owner of real estate dies, a lien is placed on their interest in the property. The lien can be released using a form signed by the Department of Revenue or by recording an affidavit. If an estate lawyer assisted you when your husband passed away you might be ok. Otherwise, an estate or real estate lawyer may be able to assist you. Good Luck!


  5. You do not need a new deed to change it over to your name but when you sell it, your husband's death certificate will be recorded.

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