Q: What will happen to my home if I die without a will?
John Moriarty, Millersville
A: If title to your house is held as tenants by the entireties (i.e. husband and wife) or as joint tenants, then by law the title to your house will automatically vest in the survivor without the necessity of probate. Otherwise, if you die without a will, state law will determine how your probate assets will be distributed. In Maryland, if you are survived by a spouse and at least one minor child, your spouse will receive only half of the probate assets and your children will receive the other half (a deceased child's share will pass to the child's own children).
If you are married and all your surviving children are over the age of 18, and if you have no descendants and a parent survives you, your spouse will receive the first $15,000 of the probate assets, plus one-half of the remaining assets. The remaining probate assets will pass to your surviving descendants or parents.
Your surviving spouse will receive the entire probate estate, including your house, only if you have no descendants or parents who survive you. Your siblings or more remote relatives will receive a portion of your probate estate if you are not survived by a spouse, descendant, or parent.
Q: I am interested in any information that I can get on reverse mortgages, including if I qualify, who offers them locally and how I can get in touch with them.
Mary Stone, Columbia
A: With a reverse mortgage, the lender does not expect you to make mortgage payments. Instead, the proceeds from this type of loan can be received in the form of regular monthly payments to you (as long as you live in the home), a line of credit, or a lump sum (some of which can be used to pay off existing mortgage debt). You choose the form and manner of payment.
To qualify for a reverse mortgage, you must be at least 62 years old, own and occupy the house as your principal residence, and own the house free and clear. If there is a small mortgage balance or property lien, the reverse mortgage proceeds must be enough to pay it off. Locally, reverse mortgages are offered by Unity Mortgage Corporation in Columbia (410) 381-4890.