Can I sell a house without the other person on the deed getting any share of the sell price?

UPDATED: Oct 2, 2022

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Can I sell a house without the other person on the deed getting any share of the sell price?

I am my mothers PoA, she has early on-set Alzheimer’s diagnosed in 2007. I would like to sell her house, however, my father is on the deed as well. He is not on the mortgage. He has not been around since 2000 and has not contributed towards payments/taxes for the house since then. Can I proceed with selling and how can I sell the house without him getting a share? I would like the money to go towards her nursing home care.

Asked on September 2, 2019 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

First, if and when you sell, your father will get a share: he is on the deed, making him half owner, which means that half the equity or value in the house is his. There are some circumstances (see below) in which a court might order that he get less and your mother more, but only a court can make that determination; and the norm or default would be that as half owner, he gets half the proceeds (after paying the costs of sale and paying off any mortgages or liens).
You can only sell if 1) he, as co-owner, agrees to sell; or 2) if he won't agree, you (as your mother's "attorney-in-fact" or agent; those are the terms for the person given power by a POA) bring a kind of legal action traditionally called an action "for partition." When the owners of real estate cannot agree as to what to do with it, a court has the power to order that the property be sold and the proceeds (after paying costs, mortgage, liens, etc.) be divided among the owners. If you do go to court (don't get his voluntary agreeement to sell), you can bring up to the court that your mother paid much more of the taxes and other costs than him (and provide proof--e.g. bank statements or cancelled checks) that she did. The court may, but is not required, to give your mother more of the equity to reflect that she bore more of the costs.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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