What to do ifone of the co-owners of property dies and there is no reference to JTWROS?

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What to do ifone of the co-owners of property dies and there is no reference to JTWROS?

Approximateltly 60 years ago when we purchased our house the Title showed  – A. Smith & B. Smith. My husband passed away 2 years ago and what little we had was in joint bank accounts so we did not go through probate. I’m not even sure that JTWROS even existed in those days. Should I make an attempt to get title in my name only or, when the day comes to sell, will his death certificate be enough? Currently I’m 88 years old.

Asked on August 6, 2011 New York


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

If legal title to your home is not in a joint tenancy with a right of survivorship or as community property with the right of survivorship (assuming New York allows title to be taken as community property with the right of survivorship), and your husband had no will or trust, you have to file a petition with the superior court in the county to administer his estate.

You should contact a wills and trust attorney about this suggested petition if there was no will or trust for your deceased husband.

In this suggested petition (which is much like a probate), you file pleadings with the court listing assets of your deceased husband that were not in joint tenancy which would be your home. Since you are the surviving wife, most likely under New York law, you inherit all of your late husband.

The court would make an order that title to your home that was held by your husband as a tenant in common would vest in you where you own the whole home. You then have the order recorded on your home which ends up transferring your husband's former title to you as a tenant in common.

I would start on this process now in that it usually takes six months or so to complete.

Good luck.


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