If a house is jointly owned and the husband passes away does the house go to the wife?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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If a house is jointly owned and the husband passes away does the house go to the wife?

Or would the house be considered part of the estate and the husband’s half be owned as stated in the Will? So, for example, the Will states 1/3 of the estate will go to the wife and 2/3 will be split among the children. Is the house considered part of the estate and would the wife only retain 2/3 ownership or would it go 100% to her?

Asked on December 11, 2018 under Estate Planning, Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

It depends on how they owned it jointly. If it was owned as "joint tenants with right of survivorship" or JTROS, which is the most common way for spouses to jointly own property, then when one joint "tenant" passes away, the survivor receives their share and becomes sole owner. This happens automatically on death, outside of probate. If owned as "tenants in common," however, then his share doesn't automatically go to her: instead it becomes part of his estate and passes according to the provisions of his will.

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