Q: I am getting older and want to add my son to the deed. How do I do it? (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: It is easy to do. You just hire an attorney to prepare a new deed with your son’s name on it. You can put him on the new deed with you or you can leave him on the deed alone. All you would pay is an attorney fee to prepare the deed and the filing fee. However, a word of caution before you do this. Please consult with an attorney with whom you can share all the facts before doing this. This may or may not be advisable for you and an attorney can only make the determination if he has information on your other financial assets, your health, your health insurance, your potential of needing Medicaid, your income and the stability of your son.
Q: I take care of my elderly mother and we are both on the lease and both contribute to the rent. If she were to die I wouldn’t be able to afford the rent by myself. If a co-leaser dies, is the other person responsible for paying the rent on the remainder of the lease or is there an option to break it? (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: The answer should be contained in the lease which likely contains joint and several language. Generally, each person on the lease is independently liable for the entire lease amount if the other tenant fails to pay. If your mother’s health is precarious, you may want to reach out to the landlord and inform him of your situation.
Q: I am purchasing a piece of property from an individual, he is the youngest of three children. His mother has dementia and is in an assisted living home, he has power of attorney. He has a warranty deed that states that he received the property from his mother for a sum of money. My closing agent has a copy of this deed and is asking for a bill of sale or bank account to show the transfer of money, in case one of the other children try to take the property. Is this necessary or does the warranty deed take care of this? (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: No, it is not required, however, I think your closing agent is exercising due diligence as I would in this situation. Two potential concerns. One, is that it was a transfer without consideration (no actual money paid). If that happened, and his mother needs to apply for Medicaid in the future, or is receiving Medicaid benefits right now, Medicaid would ask for the record of the transfer. If no consideration was paid, there could be a problem and the home could potentially be subject to a Medicaid lien The second concern is that the other children didn’t agree to or don’t even know about the transfer. I think it is best to be cautious.
Q: My mom is going to pass away soon, and my dad’s name is still on the title. He hasn’t been around in 20 years. He didn’t have much to do with the payoff of the mortgage at all. I don’t even know where he is to ask him to sign the paperwork for my mother. (McKeesport, PA)
A: The easiest thing to do would be to ask him. If you don’t know where he is start asking around-family, friends, his last employer, etc. You would be amazed what you can find on the internet. If necessary, hire a private detective or person locator. Perhaps he has grown up and will sign over the deed to make amends. If you cannot locate him or he will not do it, it is practically impossible to take the name of a property owner off a deed without their signature on a new deed, or without litigation. If he and your mother are owners as husband and wife, or legally, what they call by entireties, his share will pass to her if he would die. However, I am not suggesting that you put a hit out on him. Conversely, he will own the entire house when she passes. You may also want to check if they were ever divorced. Often in a divorce, one spouse agrees to convey title to the other in marriage settlement agreement or divorce agreement. The other option is to consult with a lawyer about a filing an action for partition of real estate. If that can be done with entireties property, the court may accept alternate service by publication if your lawyer cannot locate him. If he does not respond to the published notice, a default judgment could be entered, and his name stricken from the deed.
Q: On August 2, 2017, the real estate closing company was provided with a copy of the Notice of Inheritance Tax Appraisement, Allowance of Disallowance of Deductions and Assessment of Tax the Estate received from the Pa Dept. of Revenue showing that the inheritance tax return was “accepted as filed” and no further tax is due. To date we have not had the courtesy of a reply from the closing company.
A: There is no set rule of law on this but generally, it should be a reasonable time-period. I have waited two weeks and more in these situations. I would goggle them to see if they are still in business, if you are concerned. However, it is doubtful that anything is amiss and remember, August is a vacation month. However, if you don’t hear anything by the end of this first week of September, I would call, again.
Q: Property was turned over to us children. Two siblings passed away. Their children have not paid a cent of taxes for almost 18 years and now are holding us up from selling. What can I do? (White Oak, PA)
A: You really need to sit down with a lawyer to examine the prior deeds and estate papers to assess with certainty, what the present situation is. If you are correct, in that you own the property with the children of deceased siblings, and they are not cooperating with a sale, I would say you have a problem. You may have to buy out their interest. You could argue that what they receive should be reduced by the portion of real estate taxes and insurance if any, that they have not paid over the years. If this cannot be worked out, a petition for partition action in Allegheny County is expensive to file and litigate-for both parties. This is a matter that should be settled based on value of the property.