lived on prop for 30 yrs prop given by ex in laws now in nursing homesurvey shows different story always treated as mine what to do?

UPDATED: May 19, 2009

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lived on prop for 30 yrs prop given by ex in laws now in nursing homesurvey shows different story always treated as mine what to do?

Asked on May 19, 2009 under Real Estate Law, North Carolina


B. B., Member, New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 13 years ago | Contributor

You will need to talk to an experienced real estate attorney.  One place to find qualified lawyers in your area is our website,

It is possible for land to become yours, if you treat it as yours for a certain length of time, under a legal concept called "adverse possession."  There are several things that are necessary for this to happen.  First, your occupation of the land has to be "open and notorious," not hidden.  Second, it has to be "hostile and exclusive," which means that you have to have kept other people out, for example by a fence.

I'm not a North Carolina lawyer.  Some quick internet research suggests to me that it takes 20 continuous years of adverse possession to become the legal owner, although it can be as little as 7 years, if your possession was "under color of title," such as a mistaken deed description, which is what your question suggests.

This is not anything that you want to take a stand on by yourself, because mistakes in this area tend to be very expensive.  A lawyer is cheap insurance -- and may be able to protect rights that you could not otherwise preserve.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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