If my parents gave me a house, can they take it back?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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If my parents gave me a house, can they take it back?

My parents gave my family and I a house 5 years ago. They bought it on a land contract so it couldnt

be switched out of their name until the sell was complete. By the time the land contract was finished

my mother had filed for divorce from my father after 40 years of marriage so legally it couldnt be put in my name at that point. During the first arbitration she said she wanted to take the house from me

completely. We planned on selling and moving closer to my dad. Now, since she has found this out, she has agreed to put the house in my name but if I ever sell the house she insists on getting 50% of the money. The house was given to me outright with no strings attached, can she do this? Her brain is diseased and she is only doing this to be spiteful and vindictive, is it legal?

Asked on December 6, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Kentucky


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

According to what you write, the house has not been given to you yet--it was not put into your name. It was *promised* to you, but not actually transferred to you. Unfortunately, a promise like this has NO legal effect whatsoever: it may be ignored or reneged upon at will. Essentially, such a promise means nothing and gives the promisee (the person receiving the promise) no rights. Therefore, you at present have no right to the house or interest in it: she has not given you anything yet. That being the case, since she has not given it to you, if she does, she may do so subject to some enforceable agreement that if you sell the house, she gets 50% of the money--she can put that condition on you getting it, and if you are not willing to accept that condition, you can refuse to accept the house. And if you accept the house subject to that condition, you would be bound to it.

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