Can the Sale of Gifted Home be Forced?

Two years ago a woman suffered a stroke and moved to Glendale so her son could help take care of her. She purchased another home in Glendale for her son, and said that “this will be your home forever.” The son put all of his savings into this home for landscaping, appliances, and carpeting. Plus, he drove his mother to all of her doctors’ appointments and shopping trips, etc. Recently she passed away. The mother named her daughter in Ohio as the personal representative of the estate in her will. The daughter has now written her brother saying that she wants to sell the home and all of the sale proceeds would go into the estate. According to Arizona real estate law, can this man’s sister make him sell his home?

Probably not. First, the mother probably made a gift of the home to her son. And the improvements,made to the home by her son, such as landscaping, appliances, and carpeting is strong evidence of a gift. Second, even if there was no gift, the mother’s oral agreement to give her son the home in exchange for his assistance to her in her declining years should be enforceable.

Note: In the typical circumstance the parent is on title to the home, and the child and the parent orally agree that, in consideration of the child rendering personal services to take care of the parent in the parent’s declining years, the child will get the home upon the parent’s death. Although the Statute of Frauds generally requires written agreements to transfer any real property, this type of oral agreement is an exception to the Statute of Frauds and is generally enforceable after the death of the parent.

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