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What happens to joint property when someone dies without a will?

Philadelphia, PA |

My mother died a few weeks ago. We owned a property jointly. Both of our names are on the deed. She had no will. Can I remove her name from the deed? If so, how? Will her name be removed automatically after a certain period of time? Is there a deadline for other family members to try to get part of the property? I still live in the property and pay the mortgage every month. My name has been on the deed since we purchased the property 12 years ago. I live in Pennsylvania.

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Attorney answers 2


It depends on the precise nature of the joint ownership. If the deed identifies the interest as a joint interest with a right of survivorship than the property became 100% yours on your mother's death. If however the deed identifies the joint interest as a tenant in common interest or if the deed is silent on the nature of the joint ownership (in which case tenant in common ownership is presumed) than your mother's 1/2 interst in the home passes by intestacy to her heirs under PA law which would probably include you, your siblings, the descendants of any predeceased sibling, and your mother's spouse if living.

Regardless of how the property is titled Inheritance tax is owed to PA so you should consult with an experienced estate attorney to guide you through the analysis of your deed and the filing of the inheritance tax return.

Very truly yours,

Ed Smeltzer

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Edward's comments are correct. As for Pennsylvania Inheritance Taxes from the limited facts presentated it would seem that only 1/2 of the value of the real estate should be subject to tax.

Hope this helps.

Mr. Fromm is licensed to practice law in PA, practices in Philadelphia, and can be reached at 215-735-2336. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/ client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that if known could significantly change the reply unsuitable. Mr. Fromm strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in their state in order to ensure proper advice is received.