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.