Question: My mother owned her home. After she married my step father she changed the title on the home to her and her husband as joint tenants with right of survivorship. Her will says that on her death her home goes to me and my siblings. She died recently, but her husband continues to live in the home. How do my siblings and I get title to the home?
Answer: Unfortunately you and your siblings are out of luck. Because the title to the home was held by your mother and her husband as joint tenants with right of survivorship her interest in the home was transferred automatically on her death to her husband and he became the sole owner of the home.
The fact your mother’s will or trust provides that the home goes to you and your siblings is irrelevant. A will controls only assets that remain in the name of the deceased after death and the home did not remain in your mother’s name after her death. A trust controls only assets owned by the trust and the trust did not own the home.
You should have investigated the title to the home and asked your mother if she wanted the home to go to her husband or to you and your siblings. If she said she wanted the home to go to you and your siblings then you should have explained to her why she needed to change the title and perhaps assisted her it making the changes needed to carry out her desire.
Lesson: After your loved one dies it is too late to change the result of the failure to plan or the failure to plan properly. Review your loved one’s situation while he or she is alive so you can help prevent property going to the wrong person or people.