Can a landowner add to the deed without the consent of co-owner?

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Can a landowner add to the deed without the consent of co-owner?

My great grandmother added her grand-daughter to her deed about a decade ago. My grandmother’s daughter moved in and has been reported more than once to APS. Out of nowhere, the grand daughter gets a call saying that grandma who shows signs of dementia is adding the daughter to the deed. Is that legal without the grand daughter’s consent?

Asked on May 12, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

It depends.
The grandmother cannot affect her granddaughter's ownership interest in the property. If the grandmother and granddaughter owned as "tenants in common," the grandmother could give part of her own interest to the daughter. For example, if the grandmother and granddaughter were each 50-50 owners, the grandmother could give her daughter half of her own interest, so now there are three owners: grandmother 25%; daughter 25%; and granddaughter 25%. That is because when you own as tenants in common, each person's interest is his or hers to do with as he or she pleases.
But if they owned as joint tenants with right of survivorship, where if something happens to one of them, the other automatically gets the deceased's interest, then adding another owner affects the granddaughter's interst in the property: she would no longer become sole owner if the grandmother predeceased (died before) her. However, the grandmother cannot legally affect or reduce the granddaughter's interest or ownership.
So the answer is that it depends on how they owned the property and what the grandmother has allegedly done now. The granddaughter should consult with a PA real estate attorney, who can evaluate the specifics of *this* situation and advise her.


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