garden chairs

How do I get ownership of this home if my brother dies?


Q. My late mother, probably fearing that my younger brother, 60, and younger sister, who is 64 and disabled, would not have a place to live after her death, left a “short deed” to her house that is fully paid for to my brother. They both got the bulk of her estate. If my brother passes before me, how do we then get ownership of our parents home?
— Confused

A. It’s a good question and we’re glad you’re planning ahead.

Unlike a spouse or domestic partner who may have a “right of election,” which is a right to elect to inherit one-third of an estate under certain circumstances, children have no right to inherit, said Catherine Romania, an estate planning attorney with Witman Stadtmauer in Florham Park.

“Absent other facts, if your mother gave her home to your siblings then it is their home to do with as they wish,” she said.

If your siblings intend to share the home with you during life or at death, they should speak to an estate planning attorney to determine the best way to proceed, including using a will, a trust or another form of transfer, she said.

“Transfer may result in realty transfer fees being incurred when the deed is recorded,” she said. “If transfer is at death or by gift within three years of your siblings’ death, New Jersey inheritance tax may also be incurred.”

Make sure you also consider the impact of any assets that go to your disabled sister if she receives disability benefits.

Email your questions to .

This story was originally published on Aug. 20, 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.