If someone gave you land can they sue you to get it back?

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If someone gave you land can they sue you to get it back?

Last year I was approached by a ranch owner who I had been helping on that ranch for several years, and were offered the huge gift of the ranch. After discussion and prayer I accepted. At that point the land was signed over into my name and her daughter’s name. I went to her attorney’s office and handled all documents. Everything was filed by and through her attorney. Now she has a different attorney and is in the process of filing a complaint to get her property back. There were no strings attached, no breach on our end at all. It was simply a quitclaim deed for deeded land. I put a lot of time and money into the place, and even remortgaged my home to pay off a portion of land that had a lien on it. The only angle that I can possibly see them coming from is, they may try to say that the daughter coerced her mother into signing it over to the her and I. So she may say, that she talked her mother into it. The daughter has been suicidal over the past year, and I told her that I could no longer have my children around her because she shot herself. Everything was great until that point. They are in cahoots together on this now, so who knows what they will come up with. Yet, the facts are still the facts. They approached me, and it was all done through her attorney.

Asked on May 24, 2017 under Real Estate Law, New Mexico

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

If the daughter's name was not on the ranch--it had not been gifted to her, too--whether or not she coerced the mother would not be grounds to rescind or invalidate the transaction, though it could give rise to the mother having a lawsuit or claim vs. the daughter. But you write that the daughter was one of the recipients of the gift. IF they can show coercion--which does not mean just emotional pressure; it has to go to a level of duress beyond simply nagging or prevailing on someone to do something--or that the mother was mentally incompetent at the time of transfer, they can potentially rescind the gift to the daughter. Then the issue becomes how tightly tied up is the gift  to you with that to the daugher. If you received a separate parcel of land and you personally did not do anything improper (and the mother was mentally competent; and you can show that you did help her for years, providing a reasonable basis for the gift), there is reasonable chance you'd keep your part of the ranch, even if the daughter loses hers. But if you and the daughter together or jointly own the whole thing, the gift to you has to be undone to undo the gift to the daughter; so if they can rescind the gift to the daughter, in that case, you'd likely lose your land, too. But again, they have to show true coercion: not just that the mother has changed her mind now.


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