Skip to main content

Separated parents, mom passes, dad about to go into long term care, what to do with the deed (in both names)?

New Jersey |

My father left 20 years ago, they never formally divorced and both names remain on the NJ property title. We recently moved to NJ to care for her and she passed away 2 months later. She willed her 1/2 to my brother and I, but we have been told that succession in NJ goes to him regardless of a will (or we have to buy him out). Additionally, he may need to enter long term care (in NY state). We are trying to keep the property and also want to avoid any liens. She had about 12000 in credit card debt and 200,000 in medical bills (most being paid by medicaid). He has been in and out of hospitals for the past 2 years, unknown medical debt (no other debt). He is a vet and disabled so we think most of his bills are being paid by medicare and the VA. Help... so convoluted. Where do we start?

Attorney Answers 2


You are asking a question involving estate, probate, real estate, and elder care issues. I suggest that you speak with an attorney in person to review the issues. This question presents a number of complex interrelated issues, that do not lend themselves to easy answers, such as in this forum.

NOTE: This answer is made is for advisory and/or educational purposes only. By using or participating in this site, or posting a question and obtaining an answer, you understand that no attorney-client relationship is being established between you and the answering attorney, and there is no attorney-client privilege between you and the attorney. You should consult with a licensed professional attorney in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state. The information provided in this answer is designed to be general in nature and is based on the facts stated in your question, and might change based on further information.

Mark as helpful


I agree that this problem requires a consultation with a New Jersey attorney. However, I want to try and answer a few questions that are fairly straightforward. First, depending on whether the property was owned as a joint tenancy or a tenancy by the entirety, it is completely true that the property would transfer to the remaining spouse, notwithstanding what was in the will. The law says that property owned in that matter is not "probate" property. So, the will doesn't really play into it.

Similarly, New Jersey (like some other states) has an "elective share" law that says, assuming that the couple was married, the remaining spouse has the right to a certain percentage of the estate and the deceased spouse can't cut him or her out completely.

You are right - this situation is very convoluted. Hopefully this brief explanation has helped sort out a few questions.


Victor Medina

Mark as helpful

Wills and estates topics

Recommended articles about Wills and estates

What others are asking

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer

Browse all legal topics