Housing trouble after troubled 50-year marriage

Posted: July 20, 2012

DEAR HARRY: The deed to my house says that my husband and I are "tenants by the entireties." He left me after almost 50 years of a stormy marriage. That was in 2010. Since then, I have tried to find out where I stand. One lawyer told me that the house is now mine under this type of deed. Another lawyer told me that I have to go to court to get the title, but he also said that my husband would lie and say I threw him out. This would leave things as they are. I went to the court for support and got some of his Social Security assigned to me. Now he is claiming poverty, so I'm going to lose that. He is in an assisted-living home, and welfare is paying his rent. He has two friends who work in Family Court, so I think he's in a position to influence what happens. Help!

WHAT HARRY SAYS: Wow! Unfortunately, he is still an equal owner of your house. Short of a divorce, it's not easy to break the bond of the tenants by the entireties deed. As a spouse, you are entitled to half of his Social Security amount from Social Security, not from him. Your lawyers are not making themselves clear to you. Apply at your nearest SS office. Is it possible that you can get him to give up his rights to the house by offering him a cash inducement? It might be wisest to have your lawyer contact him about this.

Email Harry Gross at harrygross@phillynews.com or write to him at Harry Gross c/o the Daily News, PO Box 8263 Philadelphia, PA 19101. Harry urges all his readers to give blood — contact the American Red Cross at 800-Red Cross.

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