Ownership Rules

Did you know that if you own your house jointly with your spouse, that person will automatically get the house at your death and vice versa? That’s assuming you own it as joint tenants with the right of survivorship. You do have to proactively say that most of you who are married and bought the house together probably own it that way in the real estate deed for it to happen. So, this is always worth checking.

An Example

Example true story: my wife and I got married when I lived in the house that I bought in my 20s. For the first three years of our marriage, she was not actually on the house; it was just my house. If I had brought children into the house from a previous marriage, the house would go to my kids when I died. Did you know that? You probably didn’t.

Life Estate

Not only that, my wife does have something called a life estate, so she can live in the house for her life so that no one can kick her out. But she doesn’t have the ability to just sell the house. This is disastrous if the kids are minors, by the way, because children can’t sign real estate documents. So, if the spouse wanted to get out of the house, we have to create some conservatorships, and we are going to spend a lot of time in the court system. However, these are very easy things to fix if you know what you need to fix.