If I want to sell my property but there is another person on the title that can’t be found, how do I get their name off so that I can sell the house?

UPDATED: Oct 2, 2022

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If I want to sell my property but there is another person on the title that can’t be found, how do I get their name off so that I can sell the house?

The other person on the title committed a crime 3 years ago but fled somewhere out west and will never come back; no one can find him. The county does not accept quiet claims without an attorney and I cannot afford one.

Asked on August 26, 2019 under Real Estate Law, Michigan


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You can't get their name off the title: even if they fled and are not coming back, that doesn't mean they lose their ownership interest in the property. They still own their share of it, of they pass away, their heirs will have a claim to it. You can't just take away (which is what taking their name off the title is) another's interest in or ownership of property.
What you can do is bring a kind of legal action called an action "for partition" in which you ask the court to order the sale of the property and the distribution of the proceeds. His share would presumably be held in escrow for him, at least for several years after the sale. 
You really do need an attorney for his: this is a very complicated case for a non-lawyer--you can't even "serve" any papers on him normally have to do one of the more complex "substituted services" for when you can't locate the other party. You really do want an attorney to help you--and if the property is not worth enough to make hiring a lawyer worthwhile, it's not worth bringing a legal action.

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