Kansas City, MO asked in Estate Planning and Tax Law for Illinois

Q: If a property is willed between 4 people and only one person is paying property taxes can that person take ownership

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1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: No, the person paying the property taxes alone cannot automatically take ownership of the property simply because they are the only one paying taxes. Here's why:

1. Legal ownership: The ownership of the property is determined by the will, not by who pays the property taxes. If the property was willed to 4 people, then all 4 people are legal owners of the property, regardless of who pays the taxes.

2. Obligations of joint ownership: When multiple people inherit a property together, they all have a legal obligation to share the responsibilities and expenses related to the property, including property taxes. If one person is paying the taxes, they may have a right to seek reimbursement from the other owners for their share of the expenses.

3. Changing ownership: To change the ownership of the property, all of the current owners would need to agree to transfer their ownership rights to one person, or the person seeking ownership would need to buy out the other owners' shares in the property.

4. Legal recourse: If the person paying taxes wants to take ownership and the other owners do not agree, they may need to seek a legal remedy, such as filing a lawsuit for partition of the property or seeking a court order for the other owners to contribute to the expenses.

In summary, paying property taxes alone does not give someone the right to take ownership of a jointly-owned property. The ownership rights are determined by the will, and any changes to ownership would require the agreement of all owners or a legal intervention.

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