How do I Remove Someone from the Title to my House?
We received another listener question this week: “When I purchased my home, I had my daughter added to the Deed so that she could inherit the house when I die. However, we have not talked in years and I want to take her name off of the house and leave it to someone else. My daughter refuses to sign the deed. What can I do?”
For purposes of this analysis, we’re going to assume that the daughter is an adult, not a minor, otherwise there are a number of other issues that arise. Assuming the daughter is over 18 (and was at the time she was added to title), there are only a limited number of options to get someone off of a deed:
- Voluntarily – they need to sign taking their name off of the deed; or
- Lawsuit – you can sue in some circumstances and have the Court force them off of the deed.
Even if the daughter were to pass, her “half” of the property would have to pass through probate, unless the title to the deed was “Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship” in which case the daughter’s half passes to dad automatically by operation of law.
Outside of those scenarios how can someone plan ahead so that their daughter could inherit the property, or be disinherited if the relationship sours?
1. Create a will. The will could devise the property to the daughter upon dad’s death and if there is a falling out within the family, dad could simply change the will. This is likely the most expensive option because of the fees and costs associated with creating the will, changing the will, and filing the probate. In addition, this is the most time-consuming solution for the same reasons.
2. Add daughter as the remainder-man (remainder-woman) on an Enhanced Life Estate Deed (or “Ladybird Deed”). The Ladybird deed gives dad the house for his life, and then to daughter automatically when dad dies. In addition, the ladybird deed has language allowing the father to mortgage, sell, lease or encumber the property without consent of the remainder-man (versus a Life Estate Deed where the remainder-man would have to sign the deed, creating the same problem we’re trying to avoid). This is why the deed is called an Enhanced Life Estate deed, because it gives more power and authority to dad (the Life Tenant) than a “generic” Life Estate deed.
3. Put the property into a trust, LLC or Corporation. In this scenario, dad would be trustee, LLC member, or Corporate shareholder and the agreement(s) would provide for disposition of the property upon dad’s death. Like the example of a will, dad can change where the property goes upon his death if there is a falling out, and avoid probate. This option could have negative consequences if dad lives in the house, however.
With a little pre-planning, we can avoid the question above, and leave dad in a position to remove daughter in the event of a falling out. At this point, however, we need to either gain or force (through a lawsuit) the daughter’s cooperation to come off title.
If you want peace of mind around where your house will go upon your death, if you want to do some pre-planning, please contact us to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your options at 813-774-5737 or email me directly at email@example.com. Please also subscribe to the Crushing Debt Podcast, on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and other podcast players, including Amazon Echo (“Alexa”) for more free information about these topics.
Shawn M. Yesner, Esq., is the host of the Crushing Debt Podcast and founder of Yesner Law, P.L., a Tampa-based boutique real estate and consumer law firm that helps clients eliminate the financial bullies in their lives. We assist clients with asset protection, the sale and purchase of real property, Chapter 7 liquidation, Chapter 13 reorganization, bankruptcy, foreclosure defense, debt settlement, landlord/tenant issues, short sales, and loan modifications in Tampa, Westchase, Odessa, Oldsmar, Palm Harbor, Clearwater, Pinellas Park, Largo, St. Petersburg, and throughout the greater Tampa Bay area.