Inheritance homes often sit many years before the heirs address the legal issues after the passing of a family member. Rightful heirs may delay re-titling a home out of the deceased’s name even when one of the heirs takes up exclusive residence. Some common reasons for failing to re-title an inheritance home are:
• The heirs do not know about the property
• The heirs rely on an informal understanding among themselves
• The property is not sufficiently valuable at the time of the deceased’s death
• The heirs believe that the will document is enough to secure their rights
Delays often set the stage for a future dispute. A deceased’s will may state who should receive the home, but a later competing claim can complicate matters. For example, perhaps one of the heirs invested time and money to maintain the property and now seeks an unreasonable reimbursement. Another example is when a long-time occupant claims the property by “adverse possession”. Who should receive a property when the beneficiaries of a will are at odds with someone else’s claim?
A claim to property based on a will is usually subordinate to other legal rights. If a person proves a claim to a property by another legal basis, such as adverse possession, a court generally will order the property transferred against the wishes of the testator. This may be true even against the plain language of the will and even if “everyone knows what the deceased wanted.”
What should someone do if their property right is disputed?
Acting on false assumptions can doom a person’s claim. It is always better to avoid a costly mistake than to resolve a legal dispute. The most important thing is to learn your rights. Whether you are asserting a claim or defending against a claim, the law can become complex when two sides have valid legal rights.
As a real estate litigation attorney residential and commercial property owners, I help my clients avoid costly mistakes and resolve disputes. If you know a person with an uncertain legal claim to a property, please forward our contact information:
Phone (484) 690-4613
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