Asked in Real Estate Law for Alabama

Q: If you have co owners to a property and one has not been seen in 15 years can you have them forfeit it?

My stepfather deeded his land to my 6 year old son and his daughter in law before he died in 2006. We have not seen daughter in law since. We pay taxes and maintain property and now my son is of age and would like to set up residence on land but a little scared she will come up 10 years down the road and try to take.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Amanda B Cook
Amanda B Cook
  • Montgomery, AL
  • Licensed in Alabama

A: There is a slight chance that ousting a co-tenant can be successful but it takes at least ten years, knowledge of her whereabouts, and specific actions on your son's part which would necessitate him consulting with an experienced real estate litigator. It is such a rare occurrence that I've not yet seen anyone succeed. The more common and secure method is offer to buy her half, and if she refuses then to file an immediate petition with the Circuit Court. He would need to have half of the appraised value saved in cash, as well as attorney and court fees. The first method is less expensive, but much riskier. I encourage you to consult with an attorney for more specific information before attempting either method so that you fully understand all risks.

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