If your name is the only one on a deed, do you own the property?

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If your name is the only one on a deed, do you own the property?

My ex-boyfriend and I bought a house 18 years ago and both are names are on the mortgage but I’m the only one on the deed. We had an agreement that he would pay the mortgage so that the kids and I would have a home. He has

always done so. He recently passed away and I resumed responsibility for the mortgage. His family is threatening to take legal action against me and take the house to put into his estate. Can they do that?

Asked on July 5, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Rhode Island

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

As a general matter, only the person(s) on the deed own the home--the mortgage determines or shows who has to pay the loan, but does not directly determine ownership. So typically, if only you are on the mortgage, only you would own the home. Being on the mortgage or paying the mortgage by itself does not give you ownership.
There are times when that presumption that only the person(s) on the deed or title own the home can be challenged, but is generally only when something improper, like fraud, can be shown: for example, that your ex-boyfriend's name should have been on the deed and the only reason it is not is because of some kind of provable fraud you committed.


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