The Home Category The Home: family money matters

What if my husband dies & my name is not on the house title?

If your name is not on the title deeds of the home, you are part of a tenancy in common.

Under a tenancy in common, you don’t automatically inherit the home if your husband dies, as you would under a joint tenancy where both you are your partner’s names are on the title. This is the main distinction between the two types of tenancy. However, just because inheritance isn’t automatic, this does not mean that you won’t inherit the home.

Inheritance as set out in a will

If your husband has written a will that states you inherit the house upon his death, your absence from the title deeds are irrelevant. You become the legal owner of the home. This means that you inherit the rights and also the liabilities associated with the house, such as remaining mortgage payments and inheritance tax. Had you been named on the title, you would not need to pay inheritance tax upon assuming ownership of the house.

Laws of intestacy

If your husband didn’t write a will, the laws of intestacy take precedent. This means that your husband’s estate, including the house, goes to the next of kin, who is appointed as administrator. There is no legal definition for next of kin, although it is typically recognised that the spouse is the next of kin. Children may make a claim to administer your husband’s estate, but the likelihood of this depends on myriad factors, including their age and your relationship with them.

If another person is on the title deeds

If your husband shared a joint tenancy with a third party, for example he was previously married and hadn’t got around to updating the title deeds, then the person named on the title automatically inherits the house. Even if your husband has named you in the will as the sole beneficiary of the estate, the rights to survivorship takes precedence of the will, meaning the home will still pass to the joint tenant.

Dividing the estate if there is no will

The surviving spouse is typically entitled to inherit all of the property owned by the deceased. However, this may depend on whether your husband has any surviving children or relatives. In such cases, you typically still stand to inherit the house, as that is the first part of the estate to be allocated, but if there are other relatives, you don’t necessarily inherit the remainder of the estate.