My brother passed away recently. His current wife is concerned because his previous wife's name is on the deed to his house. That marriage lasted less than five years, and she lived there less than a year before the divorce. That was more than 20 years ago. My present sister-in-law is very concerned about this now that my brother is gone. They have two children still living there. My brother had no will and no life insurance. What rights does she have, and what does she have to get the house in her name?
What Harry says: The most important thing to do is to find out what happened in the divorce. If the divorce agreement gave him the title, the ex has no claim. However, if the agreement was silent on the ownership, the ex-wife still has rights to half the value. In any case, his present widow will be entitled to about half of your brother's interest with his children getting the other half. I would urge her to try to find that agreement or his divorce lawyer to find out just what happened and to see to it that the title is appropriately changed. It is very important that all property ownership be retitled after a divorce so problems such as this are avoided. Unfortunately, it is all too common that this is not done, and costly problems result.
Write Harry Gross c/o the Daily News, 400 N. Broad St., Philadelphia, PA 19130. Harry urges all his readers to give blood - contact the American Red Cross at 800-GIVE LIFE.