Q: My mother, my brother and I are listed on the deed to my mother’s house. In the event of her death my brother and I will be the remaining owners of her property.
Mom now wants to sell the property and has asked both my brother and I to hand over our deeds so that she can be the only one listed on the deed. I have handed over my deed but my brother refuses to. My mother cannot sell the property until he does so.
What legal recourse does she have to get him to hand over the deed so that she can move forward?
A: Unfortunately, your mother may not be able to force your brother to give her back his share of the house. If she gave a gift freely, and he accepted the gift, she can’t take it back any time she wants. This is another example of why parents should not go about quit claiming their property over to their children without taking the time to think through potential worst-case scenarios.
If your mother wants to sell the property, she may have to agree to share the money from the sale of the home with your brother. If he owns a third interest in the home, he might end up with a third of the money from the sale. If he takes the cash, she should then consider his actions and the money he received from the sale in determining what, if anything, he should receive when she dies. She would need to execute a will that that distributes the rest of her estate as she sees fit, taking into account the money he received from the sale of the home.
Please talk to an estate attorney for more details and perhaps some additional legal options you may have if there are other circumstances that affect your arrangement.
In some families, quit claim deeds are never delivered to the kids and in many cases never recorded. If your mom is still listed as the sole owner of the home on the county records office and the quit claim deeds were never recorded, this information along with any other specific information she may have may assist her and her attorney in determining what course of action she should take in trying to sell the home.
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