Ownership After Death Of Spouse

Question: After my husband's death, do i need to consult a lawyer about property ownership?
My husband passed away in 2005. I was told by the bank that holds our mortgage on our home on Lake Michigan that I didn't need to go to a lawyer because everything we have we owned jointly with full rights of survivorship. I also have a notarized will my husband made saying the same. Was this information correct or do I have to do something else?

Answer: First, I want to pass on my condolences for the loss of your Husband. If I can help in this small way I am glad to. Under Michigan law, property owned by a Husband and a Wife, as Husband and Wife by the "entireties" passes automatically to the survivor. I presume that this is what the bank is talking about. Also, property owned "jointly" by a Husband and Wife passes to the survivor. I have only run into a problem when I came across a case where an unmarried couple bought a home as "tenants in common" and then after the purchase got married. They still owned the home individually and the wife had to Probate her husband's estate to have his interest in the home transferred to her. I doubt this last scenario applies to you, but pass it on for purposes of a full explanation. If you owned all property jointly, then they all pass to you as the sole owner upon your Husband's death. I hope this helps. However, I would recommend that you see an Attorney to have this reviewed and get complete peace of mind about this. If you have any questions about what the Attorney tells you, then you can write me back and I will give you a second opinion. Also, you should probably prepare a new Will, Trust, Power of Attorney and Health Care Power of Attorney and HIPPA Medical Release Form. If you became ill, disabled or passed away, these documents would be very important to have in place.

Attorney: Mark Miller

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