Can I inherit property without my spouse also owning it?


Q. In New Jersey, can a husband inherit land from his father without it also belonging to his wife?
— Wondering

A. There are several items to consider here.

If the husband inherits land from his father but his wife has not also been named as an heir of the property, then it is husband’s alone, said Yale Hauptman, an estate planning attorney with Hauptman and Hauptman in Livingston.

But if he adds his wife on the deed, she becomes a co-owner to the extent of the interest he transfers to her, Hauptman said.

“If they make the property their marital residence, however, she may acquire certain interests even if she is not added to the deed,” he said.

Note that if the land is located in a community property state such as California — there are nine community property states all west of the Mississippi River — the wife may have some rights.

To be sure, you should check with an attorney located in the state where the land is.

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This story was originally published on Feb. 23, 2021. presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.