11 yrs. ago my life partner (of 31 years) and I bought a condo in joint ownership. He died less than two months ago. Is it OK to leave ownership the way it is? There are no family issues or conflicts. We're all on the same page. I'm 83 yrs. old..
1 Answer from Attorneys
You say "joint ownership", which can mean one of two things: Joint as tenants in common, or joint in survivorship. If it's survivorship then title passes to you automatically upon the death of the partner. All you would have to do (as far as title is concerned) is to record on the land records at the town clerk's office a certified copy (the one with the raised seal) of the death certificate. That's not the end of it, however. I don't know if the partner had other property or if there was a will or if anyone has opened, or intends to open, an estate for the partner in the probate court. The partner's share of the condo would have to be reported on the estate tax return for the partner. There may not be any tax due, but the return still has to be filed. The reason that that is important to you is that if you (or after your death, your heirs) go to sell the condo, you won't be able to sell unless you get a Release of Tax Lien from the probate court, and you can get that only if the partner's share of the condo gets reported on that Estate Tax Return.
It could also be that the condo was owned as joint tenants in common, in which case the partner's share does not automatically go to you, rather it goes through the partner's will, which may or may not leave the partner's share to you.
We can lead you through the process, if you like.
John Heffernan 860-233-6336