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Inheriting, and distributing, jointly owned assets

Jointly owned property, such as a house, is

Jointly owned property, such as a house, is inherited by the surviving joint owner. Photo Credit: iStock

My significant other is older than 70. We've been together since 1997. His will names me as his executor and sole heir. I'm also the beneficiary of half his retirement income. (His ex-wife gets the rest, per their divorce settlement.) He has three adult children. His will states that he leaves nothing to his son, but I've persuaded him to name his two daughters as his insurance beneficiaries. When the time comes, I would sell his tools and farm equipment and split the proceeds with all three children. I feel this may eliminate conflicts about the will. I'd also sell our house — which we purchased together — and share the proceeds with the children. Who's responsible for his funeral and burial? And what must I do to make sure that half the house and retirement income and two vehicles — which I bought, but which are in both our names — remain mine?

 

Nothing. As things stand, you'll automatically inherit the house, the vehicles and your share of the pension.

Assets like your partner's tools and farm equipment pass through his will. His life insurance and pension go directly to their named beneficiaries — the life insurance to his daughters and the pension to you and his ex-wife. Jointly owned property like the house and vehicles goes to the surviving joint owner — you.

His estate is responsible for his funeral expenses. As his executor, you represent the estate. That means you'll pay his burial costs and his outstanding bills out of the estate before distributing what's left to yourself as his sole heir. A parent has no legal obligation to his adult children, but there's also no law preventing you from sharing part of your inheritance with them if you wish.

THE BOTTOM LINE Jointly owned property is inherited by the surviving joint owner.

WEBSITES WITH MORE INFORMATION nwsdy.li/jointownership; nwsdy.li/wills

TO ASK THE EXPERT Send questions to Ask the Expert/Act 2, Newsday Newsroom, 235 Pinelawn Rd., Melville, NY 11747-4226, or email act2@newsday.com. Include your name, address and phone number. Questions can be answered only in this column. Advice is offered as general guidance. Check with your own advisers for your specific needs.

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