What to do when a joint tenant dies

House drawing

House drawingI get asked this question a lot: my spouse just passed away. What do I have to do to remove him/her from title?

The short answer is, you don’t. While you certainly can take steps right away to do a survivorship application, which takes your spouse off title, you don’t have to unless you have a mortgage and the bank wants title only in your name. Often, I recommend to my clients that they wait until the house is sold so that they can fold everything in together. It makes it easier, it means that you will not be out of pocket the money ahead of time, and it takes away something you don’t really have to do at a time when you have a lot of other things on your mind.