What happens when a person paid off a land contract but never registered it with the county, so never received the deed?

Asked over 2 years ago - Evart, MI

An ex-husband of mine owed money to me for back child support, so therefor always hid his assets by, putting properties in his current wives maiden name, or in this case, never bothered to record the deed (even after the the land contract had been paid-off ) I believe he feared that friend of the court would find out, and confiscate the property for arrearages. He bought the property in "92" and the property should have been paid off in "99" He is recorded with the county as having paid the taxes for the past twenty years, and there is also a land contract agreement recorded, (and appears to be a contract with him solely, even though he was married at the time, and still is) He is recently deceased, and so most likely is the man who sold him the property. What a mess! HELP!!!

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Peter L. Conway

    Contributor Level 17


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Mr. Frederick has given you a good outline of some of the steps that you can take at this point. However, I think that you should confer with and then probably retain a probate lawyer to help with the untangling.
    There are other issues which may be present. When did the child support accrue. There is a suggestion in your question that you were divorced from him in '92, so your child would be 20+. If no steps are taken to preserve child support payments within 10 years of the date they were originally to be paid, then they can no longer be collected. In other words, if your child is 20 today and there are arrearages from before the child was 10, those have become uncollectible. Thus, you may have an additional issue to resolve, this time requiring a divorce attorney.

    I am licensed to practice law in Michigan and Virginia. My office is in Lapeer. You should not rely on this... more
  2. James P. Frederick

    Contributor Level 20


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You indeed have a mess on your hands. If the contract was paid off and your ex got the deed, but never recorded it, then it may not be as big a mess. You do not state whether or not he has an estate, whether a PR has been appointed, etc.

    If an estate has been opened, the PR is the only person who can legally look into this.

    If the land contract was paid off, but no deed was issued, then there will probably need to be TWO probate estates opened, one for the seller and one for your ex. The seller's interest is only a personal property interest, and if the balance was paid off, you *may* be able to get a Petition and Order for Assignment, but my guess is you would need to open two estates.

    I would start by getting copies of the recorded information on the Land Contract paperwork and call anyone you can think of from the posting. The surviving spouse is obviously someone you should consider contacting, as she is likely to have possession of the property, and any other assets that he had. If the property is worth a great deal, you may be able to make a claim against his estate for the arrearages. If there is not much equity, however, the spouse is likely to be able to defeat your claims by using allowances and exemptions which have precedence over creditor claims.

    Best of luck to you!

    James Frederick

    I am licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and have offices in Wayne and Ingham Counties. My practice... more
  3. Jo Anne Hinds

    Contributor Level 8

    Answered . These are excellent answers. As another bit of self-help, I'd suggest checking with the county probate court to see if there was an estate opened for either of them, and if so, there should be at least a personal representative (PR) or maybe also an attorney you can contact who represented the estate.

    I also think you're going to need a lawyer, though.

    Thank you for submitting your question to avvo.com - where you can get answers to your legal questions from... more

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