DEAR MRS MACAULAY,
I am 25 years old. I have been in a relationship with my husband for the past four and half years, but we have only been married for five months.
Before we met he was in a 13-year relationship with the mother of his children. In 2008 he purchased a house, and he named the mother of his children as his beneficiary on the title. However, they separated in 2011. During the separation they split most of the assets acquired during their relationship.
Recently he went to have her name removed from the title. He was told that she would have to agree, and that he would need to get a lawyer involved. My question is, if he should pass away, would I be entitled to his portion of the premises?
The answer to your question would depend on what kind of tenancy they hold on the property. If it is joint tenancy, you would not get anything because they would both hold the entire interest in the property, and when one of them dies, then the whole property would, in law, belong to the survivor. I wonder, though, how this property was left out of the splitting of their assets.
Anyway, If they hold the title as tenants-in-common, then they each hold their interests separately, and so you could get his interest if he didn’t have any children and died intestate (without leaving a will) or if he leaves it to you in his will (which he can do even if though he has children).
I would, however, advise him to have her name removed. He should retain a lawyer to assist him to do so if he feels that she will not consent to this being done. He can get her name removed and substitute yours, which is what he probably wanted to do recently. If she will agree to sign a deed of transfer before a justice of the peace, then the whole experience would be a simple one. If she refuses, he would have to make an application to the court for a declaration that the property is solely his, because for instance, he only put her name on it for convenience and there was no intent to pass an interest in the property, nor was there any agreement or understanding that this would be done, and finally, that he solely purchased the property without any input by her in any way or form.
He must in the same application ask for an order that she should sign a deed of transfer and that if she fails to do so within 30 days of its delivery to her, then the Registrar of the Court is empowered to sign in her stead.
This is why he ought to consult a lawyer if she does not agree to just sign the transfer before a justice of the peace or a lawyer. I hope your husband does the sensible thing and obtains legal advice this time before he decides to act or not to act.
Margarette May Macaulay is an attorney-at-law, Supreme Court mediator, notary public, and women’s and children’s rights advocate. Send questions via e-mail to email@example.com; or write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5. All responses are published. Mrs Macaulay cannot provide personal responses.
The contents of this article are for informational purposes only and must not be relied upon as an alternative to legal advice from your own attorney.