Take deceased spouse's name off house deed

DEAR BRUCE: I am 72 years old, and my husband recently passed away. I am concerned about whether I should take my husband's name off the deed to the house. In my will, I am leaving the house to my nephew and niece and wondered if leaving it in just my name — or my name and my deceased husband's name — will cause them problems when I pass away. If I remove my husband's name from the deed, will the bank require me to refinance my mortgage? — Roberta, via e-mail

DEAR ROBERTA: In my opinion, it would be wise to have your husband's name removed from the deed, bank accounts, stock ownership, etc. It can only serve to confuse things upon your demise. You may need some type of letter from your mortgage company to remove your husband's name, but upon presentation of a death certificate, removing his name is routine and should not cause any difficulties. Be certain that your will is very specific about your nephew and niece. With regard to the house, you should be very clear as to how it's to be disposed of, especially whether you wish it to be sold (which is likely) and how the residual amounts are to be divided among your heirs. Leaving property in undivided interests to two or more people often causes acrimony and considerable legal expense.

Send your questions to: Smart Money, P.O. Box 2095, Elfers, FL 34680. E-mail to: bruce@brucewilliams.com.

Questions of general interest will be answered in future columns. Owing to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.

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