What happens to marital assets when one spouse dies?


At the death of one spouse, his or her half of any jointly owned assets property goes to the surviving spouse.


Larry: I have a question about an asset, if a husband and wife jointly hold an asset such as a mortgage on a property that they sold, if one of them dies, does that have to go through probate or does it pass directly to the surviving spouse?

Attorney Tom Olsen: It wd pass directly to the surviving spouse.

Larry: Okay.

Attorney Tom Olsen: Most married couple owns everything jointly, that's their home, their real estate, their bank accounts, this mortgage that you're speaking of. Anything that they own jointly, if one of them passes away, it all automatically passes to the survivor, no probate required. Probate would come into play when the second of you pass away or if you both happened to die in a common accident.

Larry: Okay, so then if you want to transfer that mortgage to somebody, you would just sign with a- probably have to have a death certificate with it?

Attorney Tom Olsen: You mean if you happen to pass away, what would your wife do?

Larry: No. Well, if she passes away and I wanted to assign that mortgage to somebody else.

Attorney Tom Olsen: Okay. Larry, yes, if she passed away all you have to do is record her death certificate in the public records. That will tell the whole world that you're now the sole owner of this mortgage and wd give you the free rights to transfer to somebody else.

Larry: Okay, fine. Thank you.

Attorney Tom Olsen: All right, Larry. Thank you for calling. Hey, folks. My name is Tom Olsen and the name of the show is Olsen on Law.