How do I find out whose name the house is in now?

Iddawg asked...

My sister passed away and left everything she owned in a Trust, including half of the house that I and our mother are living in. Mom had put the house in my sister's name and my name. I was not named as a beneficiary. How do I find out whose name the house is in now? I have contacted the lawyer concerning this issue to no avail. Thanking you ahead in this matter.

Expert Answer

Steve Weisman hosts the nationally syndicated radio show A Touch of Grey, heard on more than 50 stations, including WABC in New York City and KRLA in Los Angeles. He is a practicing lawyer specializing in estate planning and is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court. He's a public speaker and commentator who has appeared on many radio and television shows throughout the country, and he's the legal editor of Talkers magazine, the preeminent trade publication of talk radio. His latest book is The Truth About Avoiding Scams.

Title questions regarding ownership of real estate can be somewhat complex. You certainly would be well served by asking a lawyer to do a title search of the property to determine who owns the property and what rights you have. I would suggest that your mother go back to her lawyer to ask of him or her about who has title to the real estate.

I can tell you, however, that if the property was put into the names of yourself and your sister, she would only be able to put her interest into a trust at her death if she held title as a tenant in common. If the deed designated your co-ownership with her as a joint tenant, the full title to the property would have passed to you upon your sister's death.

If your sister did effectively put her interest in the home into a trust, this would not effect the ability of you and your mother to live in the property, however it would affect your ability to sell the property or take out a mortgage on the property.

I also suggest that you contact or have your lawyer contact the lawyer for your sister's estate to find out the terms of the trust into which she passed her interest in the home.