A significant number of homeowners do not have a deed in their name, which puts them at risk of losing their home to a variety of threats. Tangled title situations can occur when homes are passed on from generation to generation without a will or without the filing of a probate petition. Sometimes, even when a homeowner passes away with a will, probate delays may drag on for a year or longer, keeping a home’s title unclear.
Tangled titles often go hand in hand with a variety of problems including keeping up with payments for the mortgage, property tax, or utility, such as when the family had relied on the deceased’s income or where payment obligations are missed immediately prior to and after the homeowner’s death. Property tax bills may skyrocket if the homestead exemption is removed and heirs are not able to obtain the exemption in their name. Other times, much-needed natural disaster assistance may be stymied without proof of ownership of the home.
This article focuses on consumer strategies for dealing with mortgages, property taxes, utilities, and natural disasters when tangled titles stand in the way of consumers obtaining otherwise available assistance. The article lists eight common problems, explains the basics about tangled titles, and offers solutions to resolve each of these eight pressing problems.