Q: I recently lost my wife to brain cancer and our house is in both names. Do I have to do anything to remove her name or wait until I sell the house? She had no will or anything and wondered does everything just get put into my name as far as any belongings in the house? Wife’s family brainwashed our son who filed a false police report in hopes to have me arrested but because that did not work and DCP was called in, in-laws and son took me and wife to court while she was on hospice. I can’t trust them with anything at this time. They did not even visit my wife when they live a mile away and cared less about her after she was diagnosed with cancer 5 years ago. I now live alone in house but always think something can happen when I am not home. (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: In PA, deeds titled in the names of husband and wife are held as tenants by the entireties. This means that both spouses hold an undivided interest in the whole, as one. Unlike with joint tenants, where on tenant dies, and the survivor tenant inherits their half, the surviving entireties tenant still owns the whole as he did before, now only in his name. It is confusing but if your deed lists you as tenants by the entireties, or as husband and wife, you probably are now the sole owner. And generally, there is no reason to execute and file a new deed. A deceased’s spouse name can remain on the deed until the house is sold by the surviving spouse. As far as any other property held in your wife’s name only that was not real estate held by the entireties with you, there could be concerns. If she died with no will that left everything to you, then property held in her name only, passes in accordance with PA intestate (no will) law. This means that the first 30k of her estate passes to you, the surviving spouse, and the balance is shared 50/50 between you and children of you and your deceased spouse. As for your son and in-laws, you may want to consider getting a security system or a Pit Bull or Rottweiler, as a roommate.