Attorney Thomas B. Burton answers the following question: "Can Legally Transferred Land Be Taken Back?"
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Hello, I'm Attorney Thomas Burton.
Welcome back to our popular Question and Answer Series. Today's question has to do with Real Estate and the writer asks the following, "Can legally transferred land be just taken back? My husband and I were given land; paperwork was signed by both parties for the ownership transfer. The prior owner is upset about something and thinks he can call the county and just take the land back! This land has been in our name for years now and is also included in the assessment of our home value which we do have a loan out on. Can he legally do this?"
So this is an interesting question.
I'm sorry to hear about the situation you're going through with someone who apparently gifted you some land and now wants it back. The answer is if the land was legally transferred by deed and your name is now on the title to the property, the previous owner cannot take the land back unless you sign a new deed granting the land back to the previous owner either by gift or by sale. Now this is assuming you don't have some sort of outside contract, governing this transfer of land. If you signed a contract because it says here you were given the land, if you signed some sort of contract that said we will receive this land conditioned on us doing these things and you violated the contract, you didn't hold up your end, then perhaps the other party contractually, has a way to force you to give the land back but if you didn't sign an outside contract, if they just deeded the land over to you by Quitclaim deed or warranty deed, then if that deed is signed and recorded with the registered deeds, the land is legally yours. So there's no way to just call and take it back, it would involve you like I said executing a new deed to transfer the land back to the person who gave it to you.
The only other way I could see the owner, getting the land back as if they brought some sort of lawsuit, sued you for fraud and they were able to show in court that you fraudulently obtained title from them and that's how they were induced to give you the deed in the first place. If that were the case then that would be the subject of that lawsuit perhaps if they could show fraud in civil court and that's why they granted you the deed, they could potentially get the court to undo the transaction but again, the deed would have to be transferred back from them to you.
Now you mentioned paperwork here, paperwork was signed by both parties for the ownership transfer, so that's going to be the key. What paperwork was signed and what did it actually say? Was it a deed transferring title to you or was it just some sort of agreement because for example, you can sign a land contract where you're agreeing to purchase a property but title doesn't actually get transferred to the buyer until they make the very last payment due under the land contract and that's when title legally transfers. So that's a form of paperwork you could sign but you wouldn't have legal title to the land until you made that last payment as an example. Here again, I would look at, was a deed legally signed granting you the property and I would make sure, that deed was recorded with the registered deeds in the county where the land is located.
So if you have further questions I think because of the details surrounding the paperwork and the dates here, you would want, you should consult with a real estate lawyer in your area to determine exactly what's going on here.
So great question, thank you for asking. I answer questions monthly on this channel as a service to the public and the goal is to help others who are going through similar situations, get an answer to their question for things they're going through, if their situation seems similar to the facts of the question presented. Now as a reminder, I always encourage you to seek legal advice for your specific situation. If these videos have been helpful to you, please consider giving it a LIKE, so that others can see and benefit from this information as well.
Thanks for watching and we'll see you next time.
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