A quiet title action is a court proceeding in which a judge determines the ownership of a piece of land. This is a useful proceeding when a property is held by someone who died, and their estate was not probated. In some instances a piece of property may be passed from generation to generation through this “intestate succession” or passing to the heirs of a deceased person. This property may be called “heir property”. Ownership of heir property is not necessarily determined by who has lived on the property or who has paid taxes on the property.
Quiet title actions are also helpful when land has been adversely possessed. Some people refer to this adverse possession as “squatter’s rights”. Adverse possession can be of an entire tract of land, or a portion of an adjacent tract of land. A quiet title action would be used to confirm ownership of a contested piece of property.
Quiet title actions are often brought in conjunction with a partition action. A partition action is an action to divide a piece of property with multiple owners. That is to say that there are several owners with fractional interests. A partition action can be a useful way to divide inherited property among several heirs who are unable to work the matter out among themselves.
There are two types of partition actions. One type is a partition in-kind, in which a court orders division of a piece of property into individual pieces for each of the owners of that piece of property. This is possible when there is a large piece of land which can be fairly divided into separate shares for the individual owners. The other type of partition is partition by sale of the property and division of the net proceeds. It is the more common form of partition in which the court determines that the property cannot be fairly divided into separate pieces of land for each of the owners, and therefore the court orders the sale of the property as a whole and the division of the proceeds of the sale among the several owners according to their ownership interests. Often this is done through a public sale, although the court has the authority to order a private sale if none of the parties object.
Partition and quiet title actions can be used to resolve complicated real estate related problems, especially when ownership is concerned. Having knowledgeable assistance in prosecuting or defending a quiet title or partition action can help protect your valuable interest in a piece of property.
Subject: York County SC Real Estate Law. Quiet title action.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes, and it should not be relied upon as legal advice.