Legal Question in Wills and Trusts in Pennsylvania


My mother passed away some time ago. Her and my father had their names on the deed to their house. Her and my father was divorced before she passed. She was also unable to refinance before she passed. My sister is the administrator of my mothers estate, but my father (her ex husband) is getting a check from the mortgage company. Is there anything that can be done about that or is that completely legal?

Asked on 7/20/13, 2:13 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

I don't understand how your father is getting a check from the mortgage company. It doesn't work that way unless there is a reverse mortgage.

If your parents owned the land as a tenancy by the entireties, the divorce would have ended this. Only a husband and wife can own land as a tenancy by the entireties. Basically, it allows the land to automatically pass to the survivor if one dies. However, when married people divorce, the tenancy by the entireties is destroyed and the married people are converted to tenants in common. This means that if your mother died after the divorce, your mother's share would pass to you and your sister and any other siblings (I assume that your mother did not have a will if your sister is the administrator). Your father would still own his half.

The part I don't understand is why your father is getting a check at all. I suspect that the property was not re-deeded following the divorce and that your father somehow convinced the mortgage lender that he was the sole owner of the property so that he could get a reverse mortgage.

You indicate your mother died a long time ago. Why was not the land administered as part of her estate then? If she was divorced before she died the land would have been part of her estate and you, your sister and any other heirs could have forced your father to buy out your share of the property.

I think you need to get a copy of the deed to the property and see how it is titled. Many recorder of deeds offices are online. You need to take a copy of the estate file, your parents divorce decree and any marital settlement agreement from their estate file and a copy of the deed to a real estate litigation lawyer and have him review everything to see who actually owns the property. If your father is the lawful sole owner, then he can do what he wants with the property. If he is not, then he can be made to account for 1/2 of the proceeds if this rightly should have gone to your mother's estate. I would start with a real estate lawyer because probate is over - we are now dealing with just the land.

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Answered on 7/23/13, 12:31 am

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