Q: My mother’s longtime companion added my name to the deed to his property in 2005. He used a quit claim. My mother died 6 months ago in a traffic accident. Her former companion now wants to remove my name from the deed which I am contesting. Can he do this legally?
A: A quit claim deed transfers any interest someone has in a piece of real estate to another person. Once the deed has been recorded (assuming this process is done properly), the ownership interest is transferred.
My understanding is that your mother’s former companion cannot remove your name from the deed without your consent. Whether it ultimately turned out to be a good decision, he gave you that ownership interest three years ago.
Unless he can prove that the quit claim deed was falsified, was in error, or that he didn’t know what he was doing, or that you (or someone working for you) coerced him into doing the transfer, I don’t think it can be undone.
But here’s what I’m wondering about: Why do you feel you deserve a piece of his house? Did your mother and her longtime companion intend for you to have an interest in the home if something were to happen to her? What were the reasons your name was put on the title?
I don’t know what his motives were for adding your name to the deed, but he did it. Still, he and your mother weren’t married, and if your mother had a financial interest in the home by contributing to the purchase, maintenance and upkeep of the home, you might have been entitled to inherit some of what she owned.
But your issues are rather complicated. If your mother and companion owned the home jointly, her companion would have become the sole owner of the property on your mother’s death. But if they owned the home in common, with each owning 50 percent of the home, you and your siblings, if you have any, would have inherited her share.
In short it might be difficult for her companion to remove your name from the title to the home, but you really should talk to a real estate attorney for more details and to get legal advice as to your options.
May 15, 2008.