Tax deduction difficult when name’s not on title

DEAR BOB: My wife and I just bought a house for her parentsbecause they couldn’t get a mortgage. They live in the house and pay us for themortgage. We want them to get the tax deductions. But we are concerned aboutadding them to the title in case they end up in a nursing home or in some otherway are forced to use the home’s equity. Is there a way for them to get the taxdeductions and avoid liability if they are sued? We are considering a contractfor deed but are concerned about the tax liability on ourselves –Jeff R.

DEAR JEFF: Unless the parents’ names are on the home titleor they have a contract to buy their principal residence (such as a contractfor deed), they are not entitled to claim itemized income-tax deductions forthe mortgage interest and property taxes they pay. Please consult your taxadviser to discuss your tax choices.

Purchase Bob Bruss reports online.


DEAR BOB: I got a divorce and my ex-husband’s name has beentaken off everything, but the title company refuses to take his name off thehouse. What can I do? –Kellie W.

DEAR KELLIE: To get your ex-husband’s name off the title toreal estate, he must sign a quitclaim deed to you. If he refuses to do so, hisname remains on the title. The title company can’t do anything without hisproperly notarized quitclaim deed signed by him. Your divorce attorney shouldhave insisted on receiving this important document as part of the divorceproceedings.


DEAR BOB: I am the fifth owner of an 80-year-old house. Ihave owned it for 11 years. While trying to determine why a patch of my lawnwas dying, I discovered the home’s original underground heating oil tank. Thiswas not disclosed to me when I bought the house. As best I can determine, thetank has not been used for 35 years. It is empty. I estimate it to be 700gallons. Should this have been disclosed to me? –Gary J.

DEAR GARY: If your seller knew of the underground oilstorage tank, he or she should have disclosed it to you. However, since youhave owned the house 11 years, the statute of limitations expired long ago.

But I doubt that is the cause of the brown patch in yourlawn. If there was any oil in the leaking tank, it would seep downward, notupward. Perhaps the soil above the tank was contaminated when the tank wasbeing filled. Maybe a simple replacement of the soil above the tank will solveyour lawn problem. For details on the legal aspects, please consult a localreal estate attorney.

The new Robert Bruss special report, “Probate PropertyProfit Secrets Revealed,” is now available for $5 from Robert Bruss, 251Park Road, Burlingame, CA 94010 or by credit card at 1-800-736-1736 or instantInternet delivery at for this column are welcome at either address.

(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his
Real Estate Center

Copyright 2006 Inman News

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