What to do if my partner and her grandmother held title to a home as joint tenants with right of survivorship but now her grandmother has severed the tenancy?

When this occurred, my partner and I took a mortgage out to make needed repairs. I agreed to do this without being on the deed, so that she would eventually get the house free and clear. Now, however, her grandmother has severed the joint tenancy and conveyed her portion back into a revocable Trust. Do I have a breach of contract action? What can we do if she tries to force a sale? We aren’t in a position to buy her out but desperately want to keep this house in the family.

Asked on October 14, 2013 under Estate Planning, California


Nathan Wagner / Law Office of Nathan Wagner

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

You do not have a breach of contract action, because you have not described any contracts. You had no promise from the grandmother that your partner would get the house. If your partner had died first, her grandmother would have gotten the house free and clear, and you would not have gotten your money back. 

If she forces a sale, you can insist on getting reimbursed for the repairs you made. You cannot stop her from forcing a sale, but she could also have forced a sale when the house was owned as joint tenants with right of survivorship.

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