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My husband died without a will, will the house go to me or our children, who belong to both of us?

Belle Glade, FL |

who inherits the house of someone without a will, the widow or children who belong to both the deceased and the widow?

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Attorney answers 5


I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your husband. Based on the facts as you have shared them, it sounds like you would receive the house. The first question is who owned the property and how? If it was jointly owned, then the surviving owner (widow) would receive it, typically without any legal proceedings (probate). If it was owned only by your husband, it may have to go through probate. Even in that event, though, in most states the wife would inherit everything if there isn't a contrary Will and all of your children are joint children.

All the best,

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Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship.


I basically agree with Ms. Shell's answer. If you and your husband owned the house together, it will pass to you by operation of law and you would not have to go through the court to own it outright.

As for the rest of your late husband's estate, you and the children will own it together in different proportions. Check with a local attorney to find out the specifics.

Good luck and I'm sorry for your loss.


Shame on you Ms. Shell and Mr. Robinson. If this were an exam you each would get an F. By answering questions in a jurisdiction that you aren't licensed to practice, and in which you don't know what you are talking about, you do a great disservice to the public. Your answers are 100% wrong.

Assuming the house was not owned jointly, then the questioner will take a life estate in the house, with a remainder to the lineal descendants in being.

Questioner, if you and your husband owned the house jointly, with both of your names on the deed, then you own the house 100%. If the house was in your husband's name only, you get what is known as a "life estate." You are allowed to live in the house for the rest of your life, and upon your death, it goes to your children. There are rules about what you are responsible for paying for and what the children are, and whether or when you can sell the house. You should speak to an attorney about that.


I agree withn third answer unless a pre or post marital agreement has been signed.


I am only licensed to practice in Florida, so if the home is not in Florida, please disregard my comments.

In addition to the comments posted by the two Florida attorneys, I would stress the importance of seeing a licensed Florida attorney as soon as possible. Florida's homestead protections (which are too complex to discuss without knowing all of the facts) are one issue that should be discussed with an attorney in person. The homestead laws designed to protect a surviving spouse are complex and difficult for even an experienced Florida attorney to understand.

There are many situations where the home would not qualify as homestead. If the home was owned as "joint tenants with rights of survivorship" or "tenants by the entireties", the surviving owner is now the sole owner. A leasehold cooperative is one type of Florida residence which is entitled to the homestead tax exemption, but does not qualify for the homestead status that guarantees a surviving spouse the right to a life estate. Also, a person who has a business visa may have lived in the home for many years, but may not qualify as a Florida resident, meaning the home is not "homestead" under Florida law. While these situations may not apply to you, they reflect that there are many facts that must be discussed before anyone can give you appropriate legal advice.

If the home was owned jointly, that does not necessarily mean that you are now owner of 100% of the property. Florida has a type of ownership called "tenants by the entireties" which requires that the husband and wife be married (common law marriages generally don't count in Florida) at the time they took title to the home, and married continuously without interruption until the first spouse passed away. If the couple was not married when they acquired the property, or if they divorced and remarried while they owned the property, the surviving spouse only owns 50%. A licensed Florida attorney can go through all of the facts with you and assist you with probate, if needed. If probate is not needed, the attorney can assist you with filing a death certificate and two affidavits which will reflect that you are now the sole owner. I can't stress enough how important the unique facts are to the outcome of your situation. I expect and hope that everything will be fine, but I have seen situations where someone in your stiuation failed to see an attorney and had to deal with a very difficult (and costly) situation many years later.

My comments are not intended to establish an attorney-client relationship, are not confidential, and are not intended to constitute legal advice. Proper legal advice can only be given by an attorney who agrees to represent you, who reviews the facts of your specific case, who does not have a conflict of interest preventing the representation, and who is licensed as an attorney in the state where the law applies.

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