SC Removal of Name from Deed

I have/had a partner on a condo. He failed to live up to his financial obligations, stopped paying all together and started ducking me. I finally made a deal to buy him out. Before he filled out the documents, I received a mail from his wife saying he was giving up his interest. I then got a call informing me he was dying. He never recovered and subsequently passed on. SC is a survivor state, yes? So I believe that his wife gets his interest. When he died he left many unpaid debts including his share of condo bills. How can I get him off the deed to the condo? I am willing to pay the wife his share at the time of our agreement – any debts on the condo he was liable for at the time of his death. Since it is a survivor state would this go into probate?

Asked on June 2, 2018 under Real Estate Law, South Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

If you and your partner co-owned the property as "tenants in common," as is most likely the case, then on your partner's death, his wife did most likely inherit his interest. Or more accurately, it will go to her once his estate in probated; in the meantime, it is an asset of his estate and the estate's executor or personal representative has authority over it but must act in the interests of the heirs or beneficiaries (e.g. the wife).
For simplicity's sake, even though your partner's interest in the property may currently be in his estate and not have transferred to his wife, we will refer to "her" below, except where we specifically mention the estate or executor/personal representative.
You cannot force her to take her name of the deed and give up her interest in the property--though you can negotiate with her and see if she is willing to sell you her interest for a price you both agree to. Being on the deed makes someone an owner of the property; an owner cannot be compelled to give up their interest in or ownership of a thing. So what you should do first is try to negotiate with her--or if the property is still part of your partner's estate, with the executor/personal representative--to see if you can't work things out voluntarily. Even if you would have to pay more than you think is fair or appropriate, it may be worth it to do so to resolve this matter and avoid the delays and costs of litigation (see below).
If you and  she (or the estate) cannot work matters out, you can bring a legal action traditionally called an action "for partition" (your state may have a different name for it) for a court order requiring that the property be listed for sale at its fair market value, and then the proceeds of the sale (less the costs of sale and any mortgages, HELOCs, liens, etc. on the property) be distributed between the owners. In this action, you can present evidence that you paid more than your fair share and that your partner shirked his responsibilities, and the court may be willing to adjust how the proceeds are divided and give you a larger share of the money.
If you want to pursue this option, a real estate attorney can help you.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

If you and your partner co-owned the property as "tenants in common," as is most likely the case, then on your partner's death, his wife did most likely inherit his interest. Or more accurately, it will go to her once his estate in probated; in the meantime, it is an asset of his estate and the estate's executor or personal representative has authority over it but must act in the interests of the heirs or beneficiaries (e.g. the wife).
For simplicity's sake, even though your partner's interest in the property may currently be in his estate and not have transferred to his wife, we will refer to "her" below, except where we specifically mention the estate or executor/personal representative.
You cannot force her to take her name of the deed and give up her interest in the property--though you can negotiate with her and see if she is willing to sell you her interest for a price you both agree to. Being on the deed makes someone an owner of the property; an owner cannot be compelled to give up their interest in or ownership of a thing. So what you should do first is try to negotiate with her--or if the property is still part of your partner's estate, with the executor/personal representative--to see if you can't work things out voluntarily. Even if you would have to pay more than you think is fair or appropriate, it may be worth it to do so to resolve this matter and avoid the delays and costs of litigation (see below).
If you and  she (or the estate) cannot work matters out, you can bring a legal action traditionally called an action "for partition" (your state may have a different name for it) for a court order requiring that the property be listed for sale at its fair market value, and then the proceeds of the sale (less the costs of sale and any mortgages, HELOCs, liens, etc. on the property) be distributed between the owners. In this action, you can present evidence that you paid more than your fair share and that your partner shirked his responsibilities, and the court may be willing to adjust how the proceeds are divided and give you a larger share of the money.
If you want to pursue this option, a real estate attorney can help you.


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