HOW TO PROVE WHO OWNS A PIECE OF PROPERTY?

MY FAMILY SAYS WE OWN A PIECE OF PROPERTY. THERE IS A GUY THAT HAS A DEED SHOWING THAT HIS FATHER BOUGHT THIS LAND IN 1976. ALL THE TAX RECORDS FOR THE LAST 60 OR MORE YEARS SHOWS NOBODY BUT MY FAMILY HAS PAID TAXES ON IT. WE CAN’T FIND A DEED SHOWING OWNERSHIP FOR OUR FAMILY OR THE PERSON THAT SOLD IT TO THE GUY’S DAD BECAUSE THE COURT HOUSE HAD A FIRE ABOUT 75 YEARS AGO AND ALL RECORDS WAS LOST. WHAT SHOULD BE DONE?

Asked on December 16, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Alabama

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You need to seek legal help from an attorney in your area.  You are going to have to bring an action to quiet title to the property in question.  The fact that there seems to be no nexus or connection between you directly with the new owner I think could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you look at it.  In other words, if the deed had been from the last owner in your family to the person who holds the deed now and it was a forgery then it would be easier for you to prove forgery.  But if it was transferred legally then you would have been out of luck from the get go.  This way, because there was another third party involved that you have no connection to your claim that it is not a valid deed has more weight.  That, along with the tax records and other utility records - like water - could help.  Good luck. 


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