Do we really have any ownership of my father's home?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 06, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My father has three sons. Before he died he put his house in a trust in my youngest brother's name, who never married and has moved out of house. We were always told that the house would belong to all three of us, but do we really have any ownership in the home? We live in Queens, NY.

Expert Answers

Barbara Repa, a senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

To find out the real owner of the home, you'll need to closely check the documents that may affect its title.

If the trust your father established transferred the title to your one brother alone, then the story ends there. There would be nothing to stop him from transferring ownership so that each of you own a third interest in the house, but there would be no law compelling him to do so.

If the trust gave your brother only the right to live in the house during life, as opposed to title to the property, then it would pass according to the terms of your father's will if he had one.

And finally, if your father died leaving no will and no other specific provision for the house and his other property, then it would be divided according to the state's laws of "intestate succession." Such laws usually specify that a surviving spouse takes all or a share of the property, but if there is no surviving spouse, it usually goes next to the children"”so in that scenario, you three siblings would each take an equal share.