From our “Ask a Question” Mailbag: Sharing Spouse’s Pennsylvania Estate with Their Children
Most Recently Updated July 20, 2018.
“My wife passed recently. We own a house together in Philadelphia in both names. She died with no other assets aside from our joint checking account. We have three children from our marriage and she has three children from her prior marriage. Does her half of the house go to my stepchildren?”
The Need to Probate in Camden County
Sharing Spouse’s Pennsylvania Estate with Their Children
First, Pennsylvania has no requirement that you leave your children any portion of your estate. So if your wife had a will, she could leave her entire estate to you and the children would have no claim. Assets can also be left at death by contract. For example, you had a joint checking account, which means that you had a contract together that the surviving member had the right to claim the entire account.
Real Property Rules
It is not perfectly clear, though, how you owned the house when you say that you owned it “in both names.”
Spouses can own real estate together in three ways. Look at the deed and see if you can find the language “jointly with a right of survivorship” or “tenants in the entireties”. If you owned the house in either of these ways, then you had the right, by contract, to claim her one-half interest at her death and the children would have no claim.
If instead you see “tenants in common”, then you had no contract. Owning land this way means that you own half and your wife owned half and you have no right to claim her share by contract. Her interest will pass under the terms of her will, or if she had no will, the Pennsylvania rules of intestacy. If so, the children may get a portion of this land. To be sure I would need to review the deed.
More Probate Questions?
Succession is only part of the overall probate process. By all means, if you wish to learn more, please read my more detailed article, The Probate Process All You Need to Know.
In Conclusion: Sharing Spouse’s Pennsylvania Estate with Their Children
I hope that this article was helpful in explaining succession. Further, I included links to even more detailed information on my website. Therefore, please contact me and let me know how I did. Certainly, your comments and questions are welcome!
Let our Probate Lawyers help walk you through what can be a confusing process. To begin with, call to speak to one of our experienced Probate Attorneys. By all means, our lawyers are ready to answer your questions. In fact, feel free to contact our office for a free consultation. Ultimately our goal is to make the process as painless as possible!
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