My Father died intestate & my surviving 93 year old mother refuses to discuss a will so she will also die intestate. I would like to add my sister’s name to the deed on my Mother’s house so the house will be owned as Joint Tenants with rights of survivorship. This way when my Mother dies, we can avoid probate. Right now the deed has both my deceased Father & living Mother as owners. How do I go about getting my sister on the deed as a Joint tenant?
You need to take your mother to see an elder law attorney who can explain to her the ramifications of not having a Last Will and Testament. If it is her wish to have the house go to your sister, that will not be accomplished by having the house go through probate. Under the laws of intestacy, her children will inherit her property equally. If one of her children has creditor issues, the creditor will be able to attach the house after her death.
Adding your sister’s name onto the deed has issues associated with it. If the house is owned jointly and the house is sold, your sister will be entitled to half of the proceeds. Her creditors will also have a claim to the house if she has a current ownership interest in it. Last, but not least, you mother would need to sign the new deed.
Also, note that your mother may need nursing home care at some point in the future. She may be making a disqualifying transfer if the transfer does not fall under one of the exempt transactions. An elder law attorney can walk your mother through her options.
Margaret L. Cross-Beliveau, Esq., LL.M.
Legal Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on since each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. A lawyer experienced in the subject area and licensed to practice in the jurisdiction should be consulted for legal advice.
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