In New York, when a husband and wife purchase real estate, and the Deed is silent as to the status of ownership, they are, by default, deemed to own the real estate as "tenants by the entirety" where upon the death of one of the two spouses, the then surviving spouse shall be, the sole and exclusive owner of the entire real estate, without exception, provided that they were, in fact, married at the time of death of the first spouse to pass away.
If they were married at the time of the purchase than by operation of law (automatically) they are tenants by the entirety. There is no need for the words "husband and wife" to be on the deed. A marriage certificate predating the purchase would be enough.
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NY EPTL 6-2.2(b) provides that a "a disposition of real property to a husband and wife creates in them a tenancy by the entirety, unless expressly declared to be a joint tenancy or a tenancy in common"
Therefore, provide they were married at the time of his death, title would automatically pass to the wife. When the wife died, provided she was still the sole owner of the property, the property would pass according to her will or to her heirs.
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