What can you do to prove co-ownership of land if your name is not on the deed and the other owner has died?

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What can you do to prove co-ownership of land if your name is not on the deed and the other owner has died?

My brother just passed away in NM but he didn’t have a Will. He and my parents purchased land in MO together, however, it was in my brother’s name. He was married, no problem there with giving the land to my parents, except she has no power of attorney to do so. My parents made the land payments every month to my brother who in return sent it to the landowner. My brother has 2 children who live in CA. Half of the property would go to them. Now they want all of it. My parents have paid on it the whole time. What can they do to make sure they get to keep there half?At one time they were on the deed which they do have copies of plus all their receipts.

Asked on July 15, 2011 under Estate Planning, California

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss and for the situation as it stands.  Your parents need to go and seek help from an attorney right away.  There is some information here that needs to be clarified, like how they purchased the land to begin with, why was their name taken off the deed, was there another agreement, etc.  Generally speaking, transactions for the purchase of real property have to be in writing or they violate a law known as the statute of frauds. Also, the fact that the property was in his name only means that it will go through probate in California and it will be split as per the intestacy statutes, part to his Wife and part to his kids.  So things as they stand here do not look that good for them.  They need to try an figure out another angle to at least recoup their money, like a loan. But the paperwork needs to be looked at.  Good luck.


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