Waynesville, NC asked in Real Estate Law for North Carolina

Q: I have been financially responsible for a home that I am listed on the deed as owner with the right of survivorship.

The co-owner now wants me to sign a quit claim and give her the house with no remuneration. She is in ill health and needs the money and wants to sell but not split the $. I have refused. I currently live in this house with my wife. Is there anything she can do to legally force me out of this house or to sell the property since we have never been married and have no legal relationship that would impact the property. Can it be sold without my signature? I am in N.C.

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2 Lawyer Answers
William Stanger

A: In California, one co-owner of a property can force another co-owner to sell by bringing a civil lawsuit for "partition." If the dead clearly shows that you both are co-owners of the property together and there is no dispute about that, then her right to partition is nearly absolute. The only fight left would be over each co-owner's share of the proceeds.

If she brings a partition action against you, and you do not answer it, she can take your default and seek a court order to sell the property without your signature. If she tries to sell the property using an escrow office, they will not allow the sale to close without your signature, if you appear on the deed or in the title report. She may, however, be able to sell her share of the property privately without your signature. Hope that helps!

Ben Corcoran
Ben Corcoran
  • Yadkinville, NC
  • Licensed in North Carolina

A: While Mr. Stanger's answer is specific to California, the law is not that much different in NC. A partition motion can be filed and a court can force a sale, likely you would get 50% of the proceeds but potentially more or less. Should a partition motion be filed it is in your best interest to hire a lawyer.

Without reviewing your deed I can't give you specific advice.

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