Children have no rights in home of stepmother

MAILBAG

August 01, 2004

Dear Mr. Azrael:

I am one of five siblings - all of them are adults.

Our father passed away in 2000. He jointly owned a home with his wife, who is not our mother. She is still alive and living in the home as far as we know. We are, however, not on friendly speaking terms with her.

When our father's wife passes away, what happens to the home? I have no idea if she has a will. Can her brother sell the home - she had no biological children - without our consent?

How do we protect our interest in our father's home?

Dear Reader:

The only way you would legally be entitled to share in the estate is if the wife had adopted you.

Since the home was owned jointly by your father and his wife, the property was passed to her by law when he died.

As the sole owner of the property, the wife can convey it during her lifetime or will it to anyone she chooses.

You have no legal interest in the property. When the wife passes away, the home will go to whomever the wife names in her will.

If the wife dies without a will, the property passes under the law of intestacy to her siblings, since she had no children.

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