Don’t assume you’ll inherit that house

A will naming you as the sole beneficiary should protect you

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From the February/March 2015 issue of the magazine.

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(iStock)

(iStock)

Q: Our house’s title is in my husband’s name. But he was married before, and I worry my greedy stepdaughter expects to inherit it. Is the house legally mine if he dies?

A: No it’s not—it’s a good thing you asked. Since you’re not currently on title, joint tenancy hasn’t been established so the home won’t automatically transfer to you if your husband dies. To ensure you get 100% of the house, your husband needs to write a will naming you as the sole beneficiary. This should sufficiently protect you, according to the law in most provinces (including Quebec). But, if you live in British Columbia the laws are different. In B.C., you can’t cut spouses or children out of an estate inheritance—so if you lived there, your stepdaughter would get part of the house, says B.C. estate litigation lawyer Trevor Todd. Residents in this province can set up trusts or other legal methods around these laws, but will need expert help.

Got a delicate money question? Send it to ask@moneysense.ca

 

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