Is there a statute of limitations on challenging a quitclaim deed in Illinois.

My father and mother owned a 3 story building 2 apartments and a store front. My parents lived in one of the apartments and my brother in the other. Store has been boarded up for 30 years. Years ago my parents told me that upon their deaths they wanted me to have the building. My father passed away in January of 2012. Then, 5 months later, months after he passed away, my mother signed and notarized a quitclaim deed and added my name to the property as joint tenants, not tenants in common. I lost that original paperwork before I could record it. My mother signed and notarized another quitclaim deed in Aug 2013 again as joint tenants, not tenants in common. This one I recorded right away however, I found the original quitclaim deed afterward. My siblings were well aware of me co-owning the building with my mother. My sister was present when we signed and notarized it the second time. My brothers and sister and I had many discussions over the years about me owning the building while our mother was still alive and sick. Fast forward to January of 2017, our mother passed away. She left no Will. I told my brother the one who lives in the building that I was going to sell it and that he needed to find a new place to stay. Now he wants to fight me for the building saying he is entitled to part of my mother’s share of the building since she passed away and he’s been living there 30 years. The reason the building was left to me is because I’m the youngest and the biological child of both parents. All of my siblings are 18 years older. Plus, my brother was irresponsible with money and for most of those 30 years did not pay rent to my parents. My brother is claiming that my parents said that he could stay in that apartment, although there is no paperwork or anything to prove that and it completely counter to everything that was told to me. Does my brother have any grounds to any percentage of the building? It was my understanding that because my mother and I were joint tenants that upon her death, her share went to me. Is there a statute of limitations on him challenging the quitclaim deed? At best I’ve owned that building since 2012 when my mother originally signed it, at worst since 2013 when I recorded the second document.

Asked on September 25, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Indiana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

The statute of limitations will vary by *why* he might be challenging the deed--that is, the legal grounds for a challenge. The most common one would be "fraud": essentially, that you procurred the deed through a misrepresentation or trickery. That is a 6-year statute of limitations for fraud, so in theory an action could be brought. However, a fraud claim can be very difficult to bring and win, because fraud is generally subject to a higher standard of proof and more specific "pleading" requirements (you have to be more specific in what you allege) than most other civil causes of actions.
Fraud appears to be his only possibly viable ground for a challange:
1) An oral promise he could live there or is entitled to a share of the building is irrelevant, even if true: only a written, properly signed and witnessed will controls what happens to property after death.
2) If he can't successfully challenge the will, as a joint tenant (if you were joint tenants with right of survivorship, as you likely were), the property became yours on your mother's death and was not part of the estate.
3) Living there for years with the permission of the owners gives no right to stay there or to property itself.


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