Deceased dad & ex wife still own joint property

6 Replies

Did he leave a will?  If his ex-wife is still on the title, then she owns half of the property.  If you inherit your Dad's half, then the two of you will be joint owners.  If he did not leave a will, then you will have to follow the inheritance laws in your state.  You should research the title then contact an attorney to discuss your options.

Do you have a copy of the divorce papers/settlement? There may be a quit claim in there from the ex wife. If there is no will, in most states she would now own the house if she's on the deed. Why was she still in the house? Maybe he deeded the house over to her? The laws vary a lot by state so you need to talk to a knowledgeable attorney in your area to get it sorted out. Did he have retirement accounts like 401Ks or stuff like that? If the beneficiaries on those never got changed, she probably owns those.

He never took "his" name off the deed?   Had he moved out of the house at some point?  Also, are you sure it is his ex-wife?  If so, their interests in the house would have absolutely been settled and documented in the divorce decree, as well as a vital portion of the "You can have the house"  conversation....    If i had more faith in people, the possibility that you simply want the house, and already know the answer... would never cross my mind.   I hope that is not the case, and if it is not, would suggest starting by locating the divorce decree as it will point you in the right direction.

Originally posted by @John Teachout :

Do you have a copy of the divorce papers/settlement? There may be a quit claim in there from the ex wife. If there is no will, in most states she would now own the house if she's on the deed. Why was she still in the house? Maybe he deeded the house over to her? The laws vary a lot by state so you need to talk to a knowledgeable attorney in your area to get it sorted out. Did he have retirement accounts like 401Ks or stuff like that? If the beneficiaries on those never got changed, she probably owns those.

She refused to sign divorce papers. She filed a fictitious protection from abuse. My father was never abusive to an animal let alone a woman. Needles to say tje pfa kept him away. In our state after 2yrs after the 1party files.. The divorce is granted withput a signature. 

 

So the divorce is a legal procedure. Was there any paperwork indicating a division of property? Did he change any beneficiaries on retirement accounts (if he had any)

If no paperwork was done, depending on how probate works in your state, you may not have any claim to an interest in the property unless he indicated that in a will. ie, in some states, if a parent is deceased, half goes to the spouse and half to the children. In other places, everything goes to the spouse. If the property was jointly owned with his ex, then it probably all goes to her. This sounds like a mess and you  really need an attorney to look at the situation and sort it out for you. If you have access to your father's paperwork, I'd sift through that to see what you can find out.

WHERE IS THE PROPERTY?

In all the jurisdictions we cover, if a husband and a wife own real estate jointly (almost always as tenants by the entirety) a divorce severs the tenancy... making them tenants in common 50/50. Dad's 50% interest would pass to his estate upon his death and would be distributed per the terms of his will or by the rules of intestate succession.

And Judges generally do not address property issues unless the parties raise them in the proceedings, so it's entirely possible the division of this property was not covered in the divorce.

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