‘How do I leave my half of the house to my children, not my husband?’

Sep 02, 2020
This reader wants to protect her half of her and her husband's house from going directly to her husband. Source: Getty.

Q: My husband and I own our home and it is in joint names. My question is, can I leave my half of the house to two of my children and not my husband? If I died and my husband remarried there could be a possibility that my entire estate could then be passed down to complete strangers instead of my own children. Given that my parents paid for substantial additions to our home as their living arrangements, I would want to make sure that at least my share went directly to my children. Is it possible to achieve this arrangement and if so would it be costly?

A: If you own a home with your husband as joint tenants and you die first, your interest in the home goes automatically to him. As such, in those circumstances, you are not able to bequeath your interest in the home to anyone else in your will. Your will is, effectively, irrelevant in relation to that home.

However, you can change that situation by converting how you and your husband own the home from ‘joint tenants’ to ‘tenants in common’. If you did that, and you died first, your will could then bequeath your share of the home to somebody else and it would not go to your husband. Clearly, at least in Queensland, because you have to tell your husband about converting the ownership, this can be a delicate issue for you and him but it does not require his consent, only that he be notified of the change.

In the end, it is the only way to achieve what you want. The cost to do this is minimal and usually only requires the lodgement of a simple document in your local titles office and notification to your husband.

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your financial or legal situation, objectives or needs. That means it’s not financial product or legal advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a financial or legal decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get independent, licensed financial services or legal advice.

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