Q&A: Wife should get her name on deed

Dear Liz: My daughter, who is a stay-at-home mother of two, recently bought a home with her husband. They have been married seven years. I recently discovered that her name isn’t on the deed to the home. I don’t know why, but it doesn’t sound good to me. What are her potential issues?

Answer: The issues depend on where she lives. Community property states include Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin.

If your daughter lives in one of those, assets acquired during marriage, including a home, are generally considered community property owned equally by both spouses. Her husband, ideally, should place her on title via a deed to reflect true ownership or place it in a trust to provide for his wife. However, if her husband should die without bequeathing her the property, the home could go to probate proceeding, and the wife would have to provide proof that it was community property to receive all of it, says estate planning attorney Jennifer Sawday of Long Beach.

In other states, different rules apply. Typically assets held in one person’s name are that person’s property. If the husband has a will, he could leave the house to your daughter — or not. Should he die without a will, she could wind up sharing ownership of the house with others, such as children from a previous marriage.

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