House was bought by mom/dad/son in 1993 as joint tenants. dad past away 2002 and son/mom now are joint tenants. Paul quit claimed a deed to add his wife in 2003 without conscent of mom as he did use a lawyer and mom was told he did not need conscent of mom. 2011 mom did the same quit claimed a deed using a lawyer to add her daughter and me and mom with a life estate. city hall pulls up the latest deeds and my moms was the latest and instead of saying also conveyed by son and his wife it says by deed and page number so on the tax bill it does not show his name so he’s refusing to pay half the taxes on the property. Since I’m paying his share of taxes and have receipts can I sue him or should I wait and once house is sold I will get it back?
ATTORNEY ANSWER BY MARGARET L. CROSS-BELIVEAU:
When the real estate tax bills are spit out, the city takes the name of the person on the last deed whether or not he owns all the property, a life estate, or one-half. It doesn’t have the capability to do title run downs to determine who owns what if the interests are on more than one deed. Ask the clerk at the town hall to write a letter to your brother.
A letter from an attorney notifying your brother that he is still one-half owner and should pay his share would be helpful.
The problem you have is that joint owners are jointly and severally liable. That means that each owner is responsible for paying all of the bill and creditors can go after either or both owners.
Your mother could play hard ball with your brother. She could write him out of her Will. She could also threaten that she will only pay half of the real estate taxes and let the city go after your brother as a creditor. Not paying your bill comes with a different set of problems, but might be enough to get his attention and let him know that she is serious and the threat might be enough.
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