By Tisha D. Ghormley
Why is it that the simplest things are so complicated?
A prime example also happens to be extremely common. Suppose Marge and Henry are married and own their home. Henry dies. Marge now owns their home, right?
Wrong. Marge only owns a ½ undivided interest in the home. Henry’s probate estate now owns the other 1/2 undivided interest. Marge, acting alone, cannot sell the home, take a reverse mortgage on the home, or devise the home to any beneficiaries on her death.
The reason is that Texas law states that if Husband and Wife own property together, and the deed states nothing more, then they are “tenants in common,” meaning each of them owns a one-half interest in the home. The survivor does not automatically inherit the house. Wife does not receive Husband’s interest in their home at his death. Instead, the home passes by automatically separating Husband’s interest from Wife’s, and transferring his interest to Husband’s heirs or beneficiaries.
How can this be fixed?
Both Henry and Marge can execute wills. When Henry dies, his will would be probated. That passes Henry’s interest in the house according to the will.
Tisha Ghormley, an attorney with Hammerle Finley Law Firm has a broad-based legal practice that includes real estate and other business transactions matter. Hammerle Finley Law Firm… Give us a call at 972-784-0293. We can help.