When you purchased your home, did you pay attention to the words on your deed? If you bought the home with someone else, like your spouse or a parent, the words used in the deed could have a significant impact on your property rights.
If the deed contains the language “as joint tenants with rights of survivorship” or something similar, this means that if one of the owners passes away, their interest in the house would automatically go to the remaining owner(s). If a married couple purchased the property together, this is probably the scenario that they would want.
However, many, if not most deeds written out to two or more owners use the phrase “tenants in common.” This means that if one of the owners passes away, their interest in the property would not automatically go to the surviving owner(s) but would go to the beneficiaries of the deceased (if they had a will) or to their heirs at law (if they died without a will). As an example, if the owners were a married couple with children, this means that the children would now own part of the property along with the surviving spouse. This situation can be challenging enough as it stands but imagine if some of the deceased spouse’s children were from a previous relationship!