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Partition property in joint tenancy for unrelated partners

Newton Center, MA |

two individuals living together in one party's property, but sharing all expenses via joint checking account for 10 yrs with intent and oral agreement to purchase another property to serve as jointly owned home. First property was refinanced with both parties names as joint tenancy. (IRS rules qualifies as a gift of half) and both names were placed on the deed. Equity in first was used to purchase second home, again with both parties names on joint tenant mortgage. after break of relationship, first party states there was never any intention to share or gift property, the purchase was made from solely owned refinanced property and Mass State law is one of contribution. Doesn't purchased property under Joint Tenancy (instead of Co-Tenant) preclude any and all other and state equal share?

Attorney Answers 3


Your question raises many issues. Some facts are not clear but an oral agreement concerning real estate can be voided as agaisnt the statute of frauds but on the other hand there can be a reliance issue as well which could support your position. You certainly need to have the entire series of transactions reviewed and I'd be happy to do that with you.

Eric P. Rothenberg, P.C.
160 Gould Street-Suite 320
Needham, MA 02494-2300
Tel: 781-239-8900
Fax: 781-658-2203

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1 lawyer agrees


You have a complicated situation that is not susceptible of a simple answer.

Unless proven otherwise, there is a presumption of equal ownership. The answer to your specific question, however, is no - other interpretations and legal arguments are not precluded.

If you are in a dispute over real estate of any value, you would be wise to retain counsel.

Christopher Vaughn-Martel is a Massachusetts lawyer with the firm of Vaughn-Martel Law in Boston, Massachusetts. All answers are based on Massachusetts law and the limited facts presented by the questioner. All answers are provided to the general public for educational purposes only and no attorney-client relationship is formed by providing an answer to a question. To schedule a consultation with a lawyer, and obtain advice and review of your specific legal issue, please call us today at 617-357-4898 or visit us at

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As Eric addressed this is a complicated matter and highly responsive to what the detailed facts show - as such there is not going to be anything like a yes/no answer based on how you have presented the facts, there is too much missing information. It would be wise to gather all relevant documents and compile a complete history of all relevant events and then speak with an experienced attorney who offers a free initial consultation.

Best of luck

There is NO attorney-client privilege based on this interaction. I am NOT your attorney. Further, everything we both just wrote is publicly available on the internet and would be the same as if we were talking in a crowded restaurant. If you need legal assistance use Avvo to find a local attorney in your jurisdiction that you feel can best represent your interests as a zealous advocate. My experience is in corporate tax, white collar criminal defense, partnership tax, and tax controversy/litigation. If you're being audited by the IRS or state taxing authority, or you are taking an unusually risky tax position on a return, that is the kind of thing you should have experienced counsel on your side and we can set up an initial consultation. If you have a family law, debt collection, violent crime sort of issue then I do not handle that. Do not contact me for an initial consultation on non-tax matters.

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