What can I do to takeover the deed on the house that is $40,000 in debt since my grandpa abandoned it?

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What can I do to takeover the deed on the house that is $40,000 in debt since my grandpa abandoned it?

My grandpa and grandma have been married for 30 years. One day my grandpa just up and left. He has been taking care of my grandmother for the last 24 years. I ask my grandfather if he would sign the house over to me and he asked for $20,000 in cash. There is about $40,000 in, I believe, owed taxes on the house.

Asked on October 26, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

You can't just "take over" the deed: the current owner (your grandfather) has to voluntarily sign over the house (e.g. quitclaim it) to you. So you have to essentially buy it from him for something he will agree to. 
If there is a mortgage, the mortgage (which includes reverse mortgage, HELOC, etc.) would have to be paid off when you take the house: the house cannot be transferred without paying these off.
Similarly, liens should be paid off. And any tax arrears would have to be paid or you could lose the house at a tax sale. Contact a real estate attorney to discuss this matter and understand the proceess and risks and costs. You may be better off walking away from the house and helping your grandmother find a new place to live, if neither you nor she can afford the payments or debt on the house.
Your grandmother should also speak to a family law attorney about divorce: if she files for divorce, she can seek support and money from your grandfather.


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