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Free Legal Advice?

Posted by sweeby (My Page) on
Tue, Sep 29, 09 at 0:25

Thankfully, this question isn't for me, but a friend has found himself in a messy situation and can't seem to find his way out. The situation is this:

- He and girlfriend buy house together.
- The down payment and money for upgrades comes from him.
- He pays the mortgage, and his name only is on the mortgage.
- Both of their names are on the title.

- Then comes the nasty breakup.
- She moves out, her name is still on the title.
- Equity is probably not much; may be negative.
- Apparently, she is willing to walk away, but neither one can come up with $900 to have her name removed from the title. (It costs that much?)

- He's moved on and has a new girlfriend.
- OLD girlfriend is NOT happy about that and has gone borderline stalker on him.
- She says that if he allows new girlfriend to stay over that there will be He!! to pay.
- She also claims she has the right to go into the house whenever she wants to make sure he is taking care of it.
- He's worried she may shred clothes, smash the electronics, etc.
- He wants to change the locks and she says he'd better not.

Anyone know what his legal rights are? Hers? (They're in Texas)

Wouldn't a simple quit claim deed (available free online) be sufficient to end her legal involvement, assuming she's willing? I don't know where the $900 came from, but it's not a 'buy out' price.

I know this isn't really on topic -- but I know there are some smart people here, and someone is likely to have a good idea. The obvious solution -- pay to ask a lawyer won't work -- no money.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Free Legal Advice?

I don't know about Texas, but around here title companies prepare and notarize quit claim deeds for a lot less than $900. I think we paid $200 per deed or less for property that had a fairly complex legal description.

I wouldn't suggest relying on a form that the parties filled out themselves. If they made an error in the legal description, the quit claim would be worthless.

None of this eliminates the need for one or both parties to seek legal advice regarding their situation if there is any question as to how they should proceed.


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RE: Free Legal Advice?

Talked to my friend this morning -- some corrections:

- Her name IS on the mortgage. He's been paying it, but her name is on there.
- He's in the middle of a workout situation with the bank, which delays getting her name off the mortgage until he's established a solo payment history -- so after the first of next year.
- Equity in the house is definitely negative.
- The $900 is for retitling the mortgage and title papers.

His Number One Concern is protecting his personal property and the emotional well-being of new girlfriend and her son, who stay with him frequently. And old girlfriend has gone full-tilt wacko...


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RE: Free Legal Advice?

If the girlfriend's name is on the property, she is an owner. That means she has full legal rights and responsibilities. Your friend has himself in a heap of trouble.

In terms of getting out of the mess, your friend needs to get a realestate attorney. If that means he has to give up on meals out with his girlfriend, of selling his electronics etc to afford it, he needs to do that. DIY legal forms can sometimes be useful in "friendly" transactions, but it sounds like it has gone well past the friendly stage.

In this situation, negative equity is a decent bargaining chip on his part. This woman would be NUTS to not jump at the chance to get herself out of this mess. She has nothing to gain sticking around and much to lose. If your friend default etc, she goes down with him. Your friend probably won't be able to convince her of this, but a lawyer probably will.


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RE: Free Legal Advice?

$900 for retitling the mortgage and title papers? By who, an attorney? Did he just get one quote?

Your friend is already working with the lender to get her name off the mortgage - so this is being handled.

Now he just needs her off the title aka "deed". She needs to sign a quit claim deed. This is not a big deal, but it needs to be done correctly. I once did similar and went to a lawyer and was charged somewhere around $150.

Your friend should call a few local real estate attorneys and ask how much to write up a quit claim deed to remove her name and leave him as sole owner. This is a one to two page document. It needs to be notorized and then file at the county or whatever municipality where the current title is now recorded. Once it is recorded, they send you or your attorney the copy and it is stamped as recorded. Only once it is recorded is it official.

When I had my attorney write it up, I took the copy to get recorded in person to my local county building. It costs a few bucks in recording fee.

Please note that many municipalities have deeds viewable online. If your friend wants to save a few bucks, he can find an online quit claim deed and then go to the county web site and find some similar to your sitiation (one party quit claims to another). Then see if you need to modify any wording your yours. But then he needs her to sign it and get notarized.

But I think he should pay $150 or so and simply find an attorney to do this for him. Even if it is $300. As other poster said, a title company can do it also, if allowed in your state. I think the X girlfriend would feel better about this paperwork being created/coordinated by a professional.

He better do this quick before she gets so mad that she refuses to sign it. Also she might not sign if her name is still on the loan. If I was her, I would request the name to be off the loan before I signed anything. But if she is willing to sign the quit claim first, then he should do it pronto.

And until the paperwork is done, he should be discreet with his new girlfriend (have her park car in garage). He doesn't need trouble and should lay low to avoid trouble. And he should be nice to the X at all costs, even if she is being mean.


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RE: Free Legal Advice?

"If the girlfriend's name is on the property, she is an owner. That means she has full legal rights and responsibilities. Your friend has himself in a heap of trouble."

Yup - Do you know if that gives her the unrestricted right to enter the property at ANY time of the day or night without prior notice? Because that's what she's saying she's going to do.

"In terms of getting out of the mess, your friend needs to get a realestate attorney. If that means he has to give up on meals out with his girlfriend, of selling his electronics etc to afford it, he needs to do that. "

Now you sound like me! But it won't happen. Fun with with new girlfriend seems to be a higher financial priority for him than getting out of legal messes. (Probably why he's regularly IN legal messes...)

I'm wondering if a simply worded agreement between the two of them might reduce the boiling point. Something along the lines of:

- They jointly own house worth approximately $X.
- They are both on mortgage for approximately $Y.
- They both acknowledge that their equity in the house is negative in the amount of approximately $Z.
- Both acknowledge that only the Lender can remove her name from the mortgage, absolving Her from liability.
- They have agreed that He will assume sole ownership of the house and responsibility for the mortgage.
- He has begun proceedings to refinance and retitle.
- They understand this process will take approximately 5 months to complete.

This agreement will be in force until the change of ownership process has been completed or six months, whichever comes first.

In exchange for assuming Her negative equity, which is currently valued at approx $Z/2

He will:
- Live in the house, maintaining it in good condition
- promptly pay from his own funds all mortgage payments, utility bills, property taxes and related household expenses
- Complete the steps needed to transfer title promptly and without delay.

She will:
- Allow him to live in the house peaceably and not disturb him or his guests.
- Be permitted to make monthly status checks (with prior notice, time to be agreed upon) to assure herself that the property is being reasonably maintained.

Violation of these terms by either party will result in the nullification of this agreement, leaving Both liable to the mortgage holder and under greater strain.

I know it doesn't change anything with the Bank, but what do you think?


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RE: Free Legal Advice?

A lease agreement might work (ask that real estate attorney!);
he would lease her part of the home, & she would be "landlord".

Tenants are guaranteed the right to peaceful occupation, & landlords' entry to the home is limited to reasonable times with advance notice, all spelled out in the lease.

If she makes the house too uncomfortable for him to live in it, they'll *both* have a foreclosure on their records.

They might agree to deed the house to the lender & file bankruptcy for the shortfall.

I'm just thinking out loud here, & not one word of this is intended to be legal advice.

Consult that attorney!


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RE: Free Legal Advice?

Now you sound like me! But it won't happen. Fun with with new girlfriend seems to be a higher financial priority for him than getting out of legal messes. (Probably why he's regularly IN legal messes...)

Sweeby, this is an interesting conversation, but you can't fix stupid.

The fact that one side is a wacko and the other side is irresponsible means that no logical, civil solution will work. He needs a lawyer, and when things get bad enough, he will find the money for one. Right now, the best thing you can do is stay out of this.


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RE: Free Legal Advice?

I'm not an attorney, nor do I play one on TV, but I can pretty much guarantee you that the mortgage company will not simply remove the ex's name from the mortgage. They have no incentive to do so. If your friend can't work out an arrangement with his ex, he will have to get a new mortgage in his name only.


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RE: Free Legal Advice?

How to unwind things like this is a real mess, and almost always involves at least some trust between the parties if you cannot refinance the house and get her name off the deed at the same time.

She wants off the note if she is going to give up her ownership interest.

If it ends up in court an you can prove she did not contribute to the down payment AND the mortgage, you might win.

It is far better to negotiate this type of thing.

You are going to need an attorney to at least draw up the quit claim dead from the both of you to just you if she will sign it, maybe in trade for indemnification on the mortgage.

The deed must be in the correct format and wording to be recorded and valid.

It IS a 'standard form' for an attorney in the state.


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RE: Free Legal Advice?

sweeby - your friend should definitely not draw up any "simply worded agreements" or anything else in writing without a lawyer. That is just asking for more trouble. Gentlemen's agreements only work when both sides are behaving like gentlemen. That doesn't sound like the case here.

As for her coming and going from the property, he's kinda stuck. Until there is some formal, legal separation of their joint property, he's going to have these headaches. Maybe this will teach him a lesson, but probably not. If he would rather go through the drama of this mess than cut his spending a bit, then he is pretty foolish. This is the type of situation that could end up bankrupting him, destroying his credit, and leaving him homeless. If he can get out of the mess for a couple hundred bucks and chooses not to, there really isn't much you can do to help him.


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RE: Free Legal Advice?

The best thing is stay out of it and stay away for awhile. Sounds like he choosed to get involved in not making wise decisions or expect someone else to help out. He needs to grow up and work things out. No matter what happens you could get blamed for ???? or get hurt emotionally or physcially.


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RE: Free Legal Advice?

I think you're all right! But Graywings had the best sound bite!

"you can't fix stupid. The fact that one side is a wacko and the other side is irresponsible means that no logical, civil solution will work. He needs a lawyer, and when things get bad enough, he will find the money for one."

I can't get out of it completely since I'm related to the irresponsible one. But Hubby and I know well enough not to bail him out financially, and he knows we won't. So it's between legal fees and a bankruptcy...

And now I can honestly tell him that I researched it on the Internet and determined he really does need a lawyer.


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RE: Free Legal Advice?

Sweeby, see if you can find the post by the girl that came here back when my house was for sale, I'd say it was summer/fall of 2007. She was able to get it resolved.

Also, I do not suggest he draws anything up himself; IMO that would be pure stupidity. Spending a few hundred on an attorney to do it right is going to be worth every penny in case she gets pissed off and changes her mind. If that happens, he'll need an attorney anyway, then you are talking about $200 and up an hour if it has to go to court.


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RE: Free Legal Advice?

Umm. What's stopping this guy from moving out of the house, moving in with his new girlfriend, and sticking the old girlfriend with the unpaid mortgage bill?


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RE: Free Legal Advice?

mfbenson - Believe me, you don't even want to know! Remember the "You can't fix stupid" part?...

Roselvr - I did a quick search and couldn't really find anything. Any tips for finding that thread?


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RE: Free Legal Advice?

"Umm. What's stopping this guy from moving out of the house, moving in with his new girlfriend, and sticking the old girlfriend with the unpaid mortgage bill?"

They are both on the mortgage, and both will get hammered.


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RE: Free Legal Advice?

Either she used 2 names to post here or the original post was removed

This is her follow up post..
Learn from my mistake


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