When two or more co-owners want to end their ownership rights in a piece of property, this type of transfer of title can take place by means of a Quitclaim deed. The co-owner will sign over his rights and title in the Quitclaim deed, and the deed should then be recorded in the County Recorder’s office. An exchange of money may or may not take place. A Quitclaim deed gives no warranties as to the condition of title at the time of the transfer.
Quitclaim deeds are often used between husband and wife or between relatives. Quitclaim deeds are also often used to cure technical defects in a title and to eliminate any potential claims against the property from persons with an uncertain or potential interest in the property. You can ask an escrow office or attorney to prepare the Quitclaim deed, or you may do it yourself.
What happens when one co-owner doesn’t agree to end a co-ownership? It may arise that one co-owner holding title with another owner under a tenancy in common, or a joint tenancy or a partnership may want to sell the property but the other co-owner does not agree. Does the owner wishing to sell have any remedies to this problem? All joint tenants have what is called the right of partition. This means that if one of the parties wants to end the tenancy, he or she can go to court and force it to be dissolved and the assets distributed to the various tenants. Partition is available for tenants in common, owners as joint tenants with the right of survivorship, conservatorship, life tenants, corporations, and property owned by trusts.
Because partition actions are often time-consuming and costly, this method of dissolving a co-ownership should be used only when the co-owners cannot come to an agreement. Partition actions often require the services of an attorney . A husband and wife cannot seek partition of property that is owned by them as tenants by the entirety. But once the parties are divorced, they can then seek an involuntary judicial partition of the property that they owned previously, unless specifically prohibited from using a partition action in their divorce or separation agreement.
When it is possible to divide the property and to establish a valuation of the property, local statutes often require three disinterested referees or commissioners be appointed by the court to determine value. If it is possible to divide the property but not possible to establish the value evenly between the co-owners, the difference is called owelty and the co-owner who gets the better half of the property must compensate the other co-owner for this privilege. If two or more partners in a partnership arrangement want to end a co-ownership, they must dissolve their partnership, as partition is not available to them in this case.
A mutual agreement between the joint tenants in a co-ownership is by far the simplest and most economical way to end an ownership among several co-owners. The right of partition exists, but really should be used as a last resort.
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