I quit-claimed our house to my ex-husband. He was supposed to refinance the property or sell it within 24 months. That time has expired, and I found out that he put the property in a trust. Did he violate the divorce decree? Does this mean that my name is off the mortgage or not?
Once you transferred your ownership in the home to your ex-husband, you lost your ability to control what was done with the property. Your ex-husband may have transferred the property into a living trust for estate-planning purposes, and he may still be the full owner of the property. But whether you are still on the loan, or not, is the real question.
If your husband has not refinanced the property in the past 24 months, he has violated the divorce decree on that term. However, it’s possible that he did refinance the mortgage and you are no longer on the loan at the property. Since you were on the loan, you can call the lender and ask what the balance is on the loan. If the lender confirms a balance amount, you’ll know that the loan is still out there and has not been paid off. You’ll also know that your ex-husband didn’t sell the home, since you almost always pay off the old loan when you sell the home.
From your perspective, you care only that the loan has been paid off. If, for some reason, the lender won’t give you the information, you can always get a copy of your credit report and see if the loan is still showing there and what the balance is on your credit report. You can get a free copy of your credit report by going to www.AnnualCreditReport.com. In some states, if you have the property index or tax number, you can look up the property and see what documents have recently been recorded against the property.
If you are able to research the property in the county records office, recorder of deeds office or the county clerk’s office, depending on where the property is, you might see on the file something that not only shows that the property was transferred to a trust but also a new mortgage on the property and, perhaps, the release of the prior mortgage.
We’re assuming that you need to go about these ways to obtain this information, as you might not want or have the ability to talk to your ex-husband about this issue. If you find out that the mortgage has not been refinanced and you are still on the mortgage, you’ll have to go back to your divorce attorney and see what your options are at this point. Litigation is expensive. You might want to wait and see, or you might want to spend the money to force your ex-husband to get you off the loan.
For our readers out there, we always advise them to transfer their ownership interest to their ex-spouse at the same time the ex-spouse refinances or sells the property. If you don’t want to be in the same room with your ex-spouse at the time of the transfer, you can hire a title company or escrow company to carry out your instructions on your behalf.
Ilyce Glink is the creator of an 18-part webinar+ebook series called “The Intentional Investor: How to be Wildly Successful in Real Estate” as well as the author of many books on real estate. She also hosts the “Real Estate Minute” on her YouTube channel. Samuel J. Tamkin is a Chicago-based real estate attorney. Contact them at ThinkGlink.com.