Who inherits a house if the surviving spouse is not on the deed in Pennsylvania?

House with porch

When a spouse passes away, it can leave their other half overwhelmed and anxious about the future. Unfortunately, this can become even more concerning when a spouse realizes they are not on the deed to the home they shared with their late partner. If you own a home and your spouse is not on the deed, you may wonder if they will inherit your property. The following blog explores what you must know about these circumstances and how Pennsylvania estate planning attorneys can help you achieve peace of mind.

When does a surviving spouse inherit the home if they aren’t on the deed?

In some instances in Pennsylvania, a surviving spouse not named on a property deed may be unable to inherit the home left by their spouse. If a spouse is not on the deed to a property and their late partner did not specify what will happen to their property upon death, such as creating a will or other estate plan, their estate becomes intestate. This means that Pennsylvania will take over the distribution of assets.

The intestate laws for a surviving spouse depend on whether or not the deceased had any children. For example, if they did not have children, the surviving spouse will inherit the entire estate. However, if they have children with someone other than their current spouse, their spouse will inherit half of the property while their descendants will receive the remainder of the property. This property includes the home, which can be divided among the deceased beneficiaries.

How can estate planning help me protect my spouse?

Unfortunately, there is a chance that your spouse can be forced to leave the home you shared. As such, it’s essential to take the necessary steps to prepare for what could happen. If your spouse is not named on the deed of your home, contacting an experienced estate planning attorney to guide you through your options is crucial.

The first thing you can do is create a survivorship deed. This allows you to transfer your property to your spouse upon death. While this helps your property avoid probate, it does expose your estate to your spouse’s debt. A transfer-on-death deed is a less permanent option, as it allows you to revoke the deed without the permission of the named beneficiary.

One of the most common options is to leave your home to your spouse in your will. While this is a straightforward option with tax advantages, it subjects the property to the probate process. As such, you may find the home is vulnerable to a property lien.

As you can see, there are many options you can explore if you wish to ensure your spouse can retain ownership of your home upon your passing. However, this process can be complex, so it’s in your best interest to work with an experienced attorney from Friedman Schuman. We can help you choose the best option for you and your family to help you achieve peace of mind. Contact our firm today to learn more.

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