I bought a house before I got married. I also had a quitclaim deed prepared naming my husband and me as owners of the property. I signed the quitclaim deed and had it notarized, but I told my husband that I was not ready to file it. Even though I told him that, he took the papers out of my work bag without my knowledge and filed them. Is there anything I can do about that? Can I report that if he took the papers without me knowing?
You have two issues here. The first issue has to do with your relationship with your husband and the second is a real estate question. On the relationship issue, we’re unsure why you had the deed drafted in the first place if you were not sure about having your husband on the title. With your husband’s actions, we can see why you may have hesitated in the first place.
If you have had a good relationship with your husband and his action in recording the deed was a misunderstanding, that would be one thing. But we sense from your letter that you have bigger issues with your husband and that you’re looking to unwind the recording of the quitclaim deed. We’d suggest you take a hard, long look at your relationship and determine how and where it’s going.
Every real estate transaction is accompanied by certain actions. In the case of a conveyance of property, you have an owner of a property who must take certain actions to convey his or her title to the property to another person. The first action is the decision to convey, the second is evidencing that decision in a document, and the third is the delivery of the document to the grantee.
It appears that you took the first two steps but not the last one. While you may not have delivered the document, the document ended up in your husband’s hands and recorded with the office that accepts real estate documents for filing. You’ll need to talk to a real estate lawyer in your area if you decide to unwind the recording of the deed. You may have an uphill battle.
You signed the document and had it notarized, so it is a valid document. The critical point is whether you had a valid delivery of the document, and it may be up to you to prove that there was no delivery or that the delivery was conditioned on something else occurring.
Given these facts, you’ll need professional help to figure out how to move things forward. More important is what this all does to your marriage and the trust between the two of you, which gets us back to the first point: You have relationship issues that are tied into the real estate issues.
If you’re in a good relationship and the filing was a mistake, your husband can quitclaim his interest back to you, which would get you back to where you started. If he refuses, the whole case gets quite messy. Keep in mind that going down the lawyer road is expensive, and we don’t know what it will do to the strains you already must have in your marriage. Good luck.
Ilyce Glink is the creator of an 18-part webinar and ebook series called “The Intentional Investor: How to be wildly successful in real estate” as well as the author of many books on real estate. She also hosts the “Real Estate Minute” on her YouTube channel. Samuel J. Tamkin is a Chicago-based real estate lawyer. Contact them at ThinkGlink.com.