D4D Probate Lead Title Issue

9 Replies

Any ideas on how I can get this driving for dollars lead nailed down? Owner is deceased. I contacted the wife and it's a bit of a mess. It was his mother's house and she quit claimed it to him prior to her passing. Now that he has passed, his will had stated that it was to go to his brother. However, the probate court would not accept the will because he used a signature stamp instead of doing something as simple as making an x with a pen. So it remains in his name and they can't do anything with it. The wife has been advised by her attorney to not pay the property taxes and let the county foreclose on the property. It seems like she thinks that she can just go pick it up at the tax auction for pennies on the dollar. I've been to the tax auctions and she can't. I am going today to try and speak with the brother. Any suggestions? My current thought is could I possibly get both of them to sell it to me?? Do you think it's even worth chasing, or am I leaning my ladder against the wrong building?? Thanks in advance for any input.

@Jason Rogers

Ask the wife's attorney why he advised her to let it go to tax foreclosure? The attorney may be thinking that the widow can claim the overage at the tax sale. Typical tax sales go for 75% or better of actual value. It can be a good strategy if the widowed wife gets that amount -minus the taxes due. She'd need to be certain that her county will allow her to claim it if she is not on title.

You didn't tell us anything about who the PR is in the probate (typically the spouse) or what his/her expectations are? 

Assuming the Personal Representative (Executor) is also inclined to let the property go, you could make a deal with the wife (widower) and if needed with the brother. If you're looking for a quick turn around, you could get a quit claim deed from the wife and/or the brother. They currently have no title interest, but the widow does have equitable interest, and the brother may have equitable interest. In either case they can make a claim which the courts will hear. The quit claim deed(s) will give you "color of title" by vesting in you the equitable interests that the relatives had.

Filing the deed(s) will allow you to pay the back taxes and in most states will enable you to get repaid -if someone else should ultimately end up with the property (highly unlikely -unless the facts you've presented are wrong or incomplete).  Depending on the deal you make with the widow and what the probate PR wants, you should also be able to start renting it.  To get a clear title you'd probably need to complete the probate yourself.  

In theory you could also let the property go to tax foreclosure after you are on title and then collect the overage yourself.  IE expect $60,000 in overages so pay off those with an interest in the property now @ XX% of the expected overage and then wait for the sale to get your money back.  But check Mississippi laws.  Some State's prohibit that kind of "help"  (helping yourself) if a tax foreclosure has already been filed.  There are limits to what you can do when someone is under the stress of foreclosure.  Also, if you have only "color of title" it is possible that the county itself could challenge your right to collect the overage on the basis that the transfer of title to you wasn't legally sufficient. (again this is unlikely but should be considered).  Counties always prefer to keep the overages so they can spend that money for the good of the county.

Another alternative to consider, if the PR is not going to complete the probate and you are not in a hurry, you could just rent out the property. If the probate is not completed, the title to the property is clouded, but that doesn't keep it from being rented. You could, either buyout, or go into partnership with, the widow and/or the brother as needed, so that no one complains about the house being rented. Collect the rents for 10 years, then file a quiet title action to get title quieted in your name (from the heirs known and unknown under the Mississippi laws of adverse possession (Miss. Code Ann. 15-1-7, 15-1-13)

If that is considered, you might find my blog about using adverse possession of interest.


Miss. Code Ann. § § 15-1-7, 15-1-13

@Davido Davido

Thank you for your response. My understanding is that the wife is the executor. While much of your response is still valid the one issue (and this happens a lot because everyone knows Jackson, MS) is that we’re in Michigan. In Michigan after 2 years of unpaid taxes the property goes into forfeiture, which basically means that you have one year to pay off at least the first of the two years back. If at the end of the third year no payment has been made the county will foreclose. When this happens everything is wiped out (with the exception of some federal tax liens) including any owners, mortgages or other liens. The county then has “clear title” to sell to the highest bidder at the county tax auction. All of those funds go to the county. This particular property will go into forfeiture 4/1/2020 so it will not be foreclosed by the county until 4/1/2121. My theory was to basically get both of them to quit claim it to me for $x each and move on from there. I am trying to run down some of the ins and outs of our probate/ title stuff but there’s a lot to sift through. I think if I could get them both to quit claim it would be in the clear, as they would really be the only two people with equitable interest. I just don’t know for sure if that gives me clear title. I have access to people at both local title companies so I am trying to work that for some answers but I haven’t heard anything back yet. I’ll post an update when I hear something. Thanks!!

@Jason Rogers   Thanks for the reply and the correction about Jackson being in MI not MS.  Please do share with those of us who read what this thread, what the title companies say about the effect of getting a quit claim deed from the relatives.   Is the widow on the title now?   That would certainly help.  

@Davido Davido

The property is still titled to the deceased. The probate court is not honoring his will in which the property was conveyed to his brother. So it is just hanging out there in limbo. Widow and brother-in-law do not speak. This kind of has the feel of needing an investor to come in and do something to move this thing or it’s going to end up in tax foreclosure.

First thing, who gets the property assuming no will....was the wife on title at all?

Second, is the brother willing to make a deal?  YOU will have to talk to him.

If the wife and brother are the Only potential heirs (no children?) and you get a QCD from both of them, along with affidavits of heirship, you are probably good to go. 

Obviously, getting a title insurance commitment is the best way to verify what is good enough, and what isn't.

"This kind of has the feel of needing an investor to come in and do something to move this thing"

Agreed.  The situation you're describing is sad for the relatives, but if they won't work it out, there is no reason why their loss, shouldn't be your gain.  Congratulations to you.  Oher BP investors are sure to add their advice before your done.   Sounds as though the deceased's widow is not living in this house?  Do you know what kind of debt and liens are on the property?

I recommend carrying the numbers for mobile notaries that know you can rely on for spur of the moment notary services and carrying a couple of prepared quit claim deeds, one each filled out with the widow and the brother.  That way, when either or both of them indicate they want to be done with this 'problem', you'll be ready to get their signatures without delay.

@Wayne Brooks

I have to believe that the wife would get it but for some reason she didn't get it in the probate process. I dropped a note at the brother's house with a card yesterday. I'll follow up tomorrow on that. I spoke with a local title guy and he said that a QCD will not do. Everything must pass through probate. I think the wife is most likely to get it. I think that I am going to try to get it under contract with her and see if we can get it through probate. I'll update with any developments. Thanks for the reply!

@Davido Davido

The widow has her own home a mile or so away. The house is free and clear. I really like the mobile notaries and prepaid QCD! Pro tip! I don’t think that the QCD will work on this one now that I’ve talked to a title guy, but I’m filing that for later use! Thanks for all of your input.

@Jason Rogers Okay, so probate was opened....so What did happen, what was the judge’s decision?  You need to read the actual probate file.....if the brother’s deed was not recognized, and the wife didn’t get it, then what happened?  You need to know.