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By: Scott Grossman on June 18th, 2018

Should I inherit my father’s property if he held in joint tenancy with his second wife?

No, not unless the second wife adopted you as one of her children.  This is a really common and, speaking frankly, dumb mistake.  Creating the trust only gets you halfway to having a complete estate plan.  The other half is funding the trust with the property that belongs inside.  Parents are setting their children up for failure when they don’t bother to fund their own trust.

What is Joint Tenancy?

Joint Tenancy (noun): The ownership of an estate or property jointly by two or more parties. The portion of each passing to the other owners on death.

Assets held in joint tenancy pass to the surviving joint tenant.  If your father holds property in joint tenancy with his second wife she’s the one who has title when he dies.  Assuming she doesn’t put it into the trust, then when she dies it’s going to go through probate, and will pass by the laws of intestate succession.  That means the property will pass to her children and if she doesn’t have any children then will pass along her bloodlines.  If you haven’t been adopted then you are not going to get that property.

That’s not to say that there aren’t some situations where you might have a shot at getting the assets back through trust litigation.  If assets had been titled in the trust and were taken out of the trust to be put in some kind of multiparty account. Then you may have a successful argument. The property was always intended to be trust property and some mistake was made with the title.

If you are ready to start your case, then please give us a call or fill out our Get Help Now form. A comprehensive overview of California Probate is available here. Should you have additional questions about trust litigation, you will find plenty of useful information in our Learning Center.