Advice on Clearing Title After the Death of a Spouse in North Dakota

In many cases, spouses own property jointly which means that property is equally owned by the two individuals. This type of property ownership, however, can create some unique considerations in the event that a spouse dies. A real property attorney at O’Keeffe Attorneys can assist with a number of issues that can arise with cases involving jointly owned property. 

The Advantages and Limits of Jointly Owned Property in North Dakota

While joint tenancy allows spouses to mutually own property, joint tenants become co-owners in the eyes of the law and must approve transfers or sales of property. Joint tenancy is unique because it creates the right of survivorship, which refers to the right of surviving joint tenants to inherit the entirety of property after the death of the other joint tenancy owner. Although property that is held in joint tenancy will pass automatically to the surviving spouse, there can be complications if a spouse desires to sell the property. In the event of a death, creditors will be able to pursue compensation from the other owner. In these situations, the surviving spouse should make sure to clear title to real estate. Until title is properly cleared, property cannot be sold. 

The Role of Liens in Clearing a Title

If a creditor obtains a judgment against a spouse, the creditor is able to record a lien against real estate jointly owned between spouses. These titles should be cleared before property is sold because liens have the potential to delay the closing of property sales. Liens allow parties that are owed money to attach a claim to the property. To be considered lawful, the state of North Dakota requires liens to meet several requirements, which include the following elements: 

  • The Lien Must be of a Limited Financial Nature: The amount of the lien can only apply to the unpaid amount that has contributed to the value of the property. This value can only include contributions made to the property.
  • The Property Must be Described in Paperwork: Descriptions of both the property as well as the name of the property owner must be included in the paperwork of the deed.
  • A Permanent Contribution Must Have Been Made: The entity who places the lien on the property must make some type of permanent improvement to the property. Permanent improvements can include a wide range of activities including construction work, heating, landscaping, and plumbing.

How a Knowledge Real Estate Attorney Can Help

Clearing title often requires the assistance of a skilled real estate attorney. It is a wise idea for a surviving spouse to seek counsel as soon as after the death of the other spouse. In many cases, though, spouses do not obtain legal assistance until that spouse is in the process of selling the property. Attorney Dean Rindy has significant experience helping individuals with these cases and can help issues that arise with real estate law. By contacting O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Foss, you can make sure that your property dispute resolves in the best possible manner. Contact our firm today via our convenient online form or by calling 701-235-8000 or 877-235-8002.