Legal Question in Wills and Trusts in Rhode Island

Does my father need a will?

My father is planning on getting remaried this month. He owns a home and he has said to my brother and I that the house is ours. He has also told his new wife this. I told him that he still needs a will. When he passes away the house will be given to his wife and not to us children if he does not have a will. Am I not correct in saying this?

Asked on 8/10/05, 11:16 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Patricia Joyce Law Office of Patricia M. Joyce

Re: Does my father need a will?

There are two issues that need to be addressed in your case. (1)It is possible that your father has already signed and perhaps recorded a deed to the property to you and your brother. If so, the property is already yours. However, if he had consulted an attorney, they attorney would likely have advised against this because, as owners, you and/or your brother could sell your share of ownership despite any objection by him.

(2) Assuming (1) is not the case, he in fact should have a will leaving the real estate to you and your brother. In the absence of a will, a probate estate would need to be opened, and although by operation of law you and your brother would receive title to the property, his wife would be granted a life estate. This means she can live in and/or control the property until her death. She can even sell her life estate to a third party (although the likelihood of a lender being willing to finance such an arrangement is slim). In addition, probate is time-consuming and expensive, so a will would more efficiently bring his wishes to fruition.

In any event, he may nonetheless wish to leave a life estate to his wife, and he could do so by will. That would still be less expensive than the necessity to open a probate estate - which would yield the same result but would take more time and cost more money.

I hope this information is helpful to you.

Please note that I am not your attorney in the absence of a written fee agreement and the above response is for public information purposes only.

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Answered on 8/11/05, 11:06 am

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