Q: Are verbal agreements for home ownership legally binding in NC?
In exchange for a base salary and no raise for 20 years my spouse and his parents had an agreement that he would one day own our home. My spouse had been the only resident since it was built until we got married approx 8 yrs ago and now we reside together. His parents refuse to sign over the deed to us. Do we have any legal rights? My spouse has now been in this house 21 years.
A: Generally, under North Carolina's "Statute of Frauds", agreements to transfer real property have to be in writing and signed; however, there are sometimes exceptions to the Statute of Frauds. For example, when someone relies on a promise to their detriment, they might be able to prove the existence of a contract, notwithstanding the Statute of Frauds, through equitable estoppel principles.
This will be a complicated analysis, though, and I recommend against relying on opinions you might find over the internet here on Justia. Instead, you need to engage a lawyer who specializes in civil disputes dealing with contracts and real property. Such a lawyer will be able to explore all the details with you, give a solid analysis, and help you chart a course to recovery. Best of luck!
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