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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 |
Attorney answers 5


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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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.


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.

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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!


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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