Who is on title and why it matters is sometimes over looked.
Husband and wife married 16 years ago. About five years in the marriage they bought a house. In March of 2017, they divorce. Husband remained living in the house, they both are on title to the house, and both remained on the mortgage. The property deed states that the property is owned by "right of survivorship", and the the divorce decree did not address any specific terms regarding the house other than title vesting remains in place until further agreement.
In 2018 the husband remarried. His new wife moved into the house, they had a set of twin daughters in 2020. They have been paying the mortgage out of the joint income.
The husband suddenly passed away a few months ago - with out a will. The deed to the property was never changed. There was no lawyers involved in their divorce.
Because of the laws in governing states, the title vesting, and the verbiage in the divorce decree, Wife #1 inherited 100% of the house. This came as a complete shock to wife #2.
Wife #1 has also remarried and lives out of the area with her new husband. Wife #2 cannot afford to refinance the mortgage or buy the house from Wife #1, so it must be sold.
Imagine losing your spouse, becoming a single parent with two toddlers overnight, then learning that you cannot stay in your home and none of the equity is yours- you won't get a single penny when it sells.
As unfortunate as it is for Wife #2, it is understandable that Wife #1 does not want to own a house with her ex-husband's widow, who would also be responsible for the mortgage in Wife#1's name. Perhaps Wife #1 will give Wife #2 a little money out of proceeds- even though legally in this case, she doesn't have to.
As a Realtor, it is not my place to give legal advice. However, I have always got my antennae up for information that could be problematic. I can help to recognize red flags and can refer the client to the appropriate professionals, such as family law attorneys, estate lawyers or CPAs.
As a Realtor I have a massive amounts of knowledge that I have acquired over the years as a professional. This knowledge can make a massive impact on peoples lives.
Susan Jacobs is a CDRE- Certified Divorce Real Estate Expert. She works as a neutral third party in Family Law cases regarding real property and secured debt. She can be reached at 703-347-4418 Susan@SusanOJacobs.com or visit www.DivorceThatSpouse.com