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How do I transfer ownership to my name of a property owned by my deceased parents?

Generally speaking, to transfer ownership of real property from a deceased party to a living party, you must initiate a legal proceeding known as probate action. In such a proceeding, you will need to file the proper petition, along with the deceased party’s will (if they had one), a certified copy of their death certificate and a few other things–depending on the particulars to your case. At the conclusion of the proceeding, the court will issue an order transferring title to the proper heir(s). Thereafter, the property will be theirs to do so as you wish.

How do I transfer real property title to my name?

To transfer title to a parcel of real property, all that is needed is the execution of a deed. There are various types of deed–such a quit claim deed, a general warranty deed, or even a special warranty deed. Despite the fine nuances among the types of deeds all of them act to transfer the title from one party(s) to another party(s). Once the deed is signed by the person conveying title, two witnesses, and a notary, the deed should be presented to the County Clerk’s office where the land is located so that it can be recorded in the official records in that county.

If I make improvements to a house I do not own and those improvements enhance the value of the property, do I have any recourse if the owner attempts to sell the property and keep all the excess money my improvements added to the value?

Yes. A common sense analysis to this set of facts would lead a reasonable person to think that this would be unfair. And, the courts would typically agree and call this situation inequitable or unjust. Ideally, you would have the right to file a lawsuit known as an equitable lien or an action for unjust enrichment. The equitable lien lawsuit is a little more powerful as it can allow you to place a pre-judgment attachment over the property known as a “lis pendens” which can help protect your interest in the property.

If I have joint ownership of a house with another party, can they force me to sell the house?
Most definitely. Whenever two people (or more) have an interest in a piece of real estate it can quite frequently lead to issues as the parties may not agree on how to utilize the property. One party may want to rent, one party may want to live there, and another party may just want to sell it and move on. This situation happens quite frequently when siblings inherit a home from their parents and cannot decide what to do with it. Whenever co-property owners have disagreements on how to utilize a home, this will undoubtedly lead the parties into the legal realm known as “partitions” whereby one party can force the others to sell.