DEAR BOB: When I got divorced in 2001, I was awarded the house that my ex-husband and I held in joint tenancy. At that time, he signed a quitclaim deed to me, which I recorded. I later refinanced the mortgage in my name alone. How can I be sure the house is 100 percent mine? –Sandra N.
DEAR SANDRA: When you recorded the quitclaim deed from your husband to you, presuming there was nothing irregular about that document, that should have removed his name from the title to your house.
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You can double-check by contacting the title insurance company that issued the lender’s title policy at the time you refinanced. By checking the file, you can be reassured you are the sole owner of the property. It would have been very unusual for a mortgage lender to refinance in your name alone if you weren’t the sole owner of the home.
GRANDMA’S WILL LEFT HOME TO 15-YEAR-OLD GRANDSON
DEAR BOB: My mother passed away about a year ago. In her will, she left the title to her house to my son, now age 15, of whom she was very fond. She taught him to play the piano and he enjoyed playing her piano, sometimes for hours. He also helped her with chores around her house. After she passed, we were very surprised her will left her house to our son. Fortunately, we were able to find a rental tenant and there is no mortgage so the rent pays the expenses. The estate attorney says our son can’t sell the house until he becomes 18. Is this true? –Everett D.
DEAR EVERETT: Yes. Minors can receive title to real estate, but they can’t convey title.
If it should become necessary to sell the house, the local court will have to appoint an independent guardian to represent your son. The sales proceeds would probably be held in trust until he becomes 18.
Although I’m sure grandma meant well, she probably didn’t realize the possible adverse legal consequences of leaving her house to your minor son. Hopefully, it won’t become necessary to sell the house before he becomes 18. Then he can decide whether to keep or sell the property.
CONDO SPECIAL ASSESSMENTS ADD TO COST BASIS
DEAR BOB: My husband and I bought our condo in 1999. In 2000 we had to pay a $15,500 special assessment for replacement of outdoor wall siding and roofs. Now we anticipate another large special assessment to update hallways and elevators. When we sell our condo, can we deduct these special assessments? –Chris L.
DEAR CHRIS: No. But you can add your special assessments to the adjusted cost basis of your condo. The result is to reduce the amount of your capital gain. For more details, please consult your tax adviser.
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