Stewart A. Sutton was recently retained to quiet title to a property in Montgomery County; and he found a creative solution to avoid protracted adverse possession lawsuit. The property was owned by the client’s grandmother, who died more than 40 years ago. Twenty-five years later, the client’s mother opened an estate, was appointed Personal Representative, and conveyed the property to herself. The client’s mother believed that she had acquired title by adverse possession, because she had paid the taxes on the property for more than 20-years. Her siblings did not object when she conveyed the property to herself.
Stewart A. Sutton’s clients, who were appointed Personal Representatives of their mother’s Estate, wanted to sell the property. However, there was an issue as to whether the property was insurable by a title company, because their mother had not obtained a court order quieting title. The clients retained Stewart A. Sutton to file a quiet title action against all heirs of their grandmother. Such litigation would have been expensive and time-consuming in terms of identify, locating, and serving dozens of relatives.
Working with the title company, Stewart A. Sutton found a solution that would allow his clients to immediately sell the property. Maryland Estates & Trust Article 9-106(c) provides that when property, which was received from a personal representative of an Estate, is sold by an heir, “the purchaser takes good title free of claims of the estate and incurs no personal liability to the estate”. This code provision allows a purchaser to obtain good title from an heir, even if the personal representative of the estate had improperly conveyed the property to the heir.