Q: How do I get my name off a deed? My ex-fiance is now getting married and he wants me to sign over the deed to him. He sent me a deed form that he wants me to sign and is focused on that. But he and I are both co-borrowers on a mortgage to the property. What should I do?

A: You are right to question the proposed shortcut of signing a deed. The problem, as you’ve pointed out, is that the two of you apparently signed a note and a mortgage. The deed does not change the fact that you are both obligated to pay the loan, nor does it address the lender’s lien on the property through the mortgage.

He needs to refinance solely in his name or in his name jointly with the new wife to be. Here’s the thing: Few lenders will allow joint borrowers like yourself and the ex to simply “take a name off” a mortgage obligation. They want as many potential people to go after in the event of a default.

Speaking of default, simply signing a new deed is likely an event that would put that old mortgage into default. Talk to ex and have him refinance.

You didn’t mention any claim you might have for your past contributions to the property so I won’t open that can of worms by suggesting a petition to partition, which I have mentioned in other columns.

Q: When symptoms come back years after an accident is it too late to file a claim? My niece was in a car accident four years ago and broke her neck. She received a settlement check, and her medical bills were paid. Now, she is experiencing renewed pain and she doesn’t have health insurance. Can we reopen the old case?

No. Submitting a release to an insurance company is a full, final termination of the claim forever. Nearly all insurance company releases include language that the document extinguishes the case forever even if new symptoms occur in the future that were unforeseen at that time.

If the niece were a minor at the time, her statute of limitations in New Hampshire would not have started to run until she turned 18, so she would have three years, until her 21st birthday to bring the claim before the statute of limitations kicked in. But your facts seem to indicate that a release was signed.

This is why significant settlements for minors must actually be approved by a court.

This is also one of those not-so-obvious concerns that do-it-yourselfers miss when handling their own cases. In wanting to close the case and get a check, the residuals or potential for long range issues are not thought of and not addressed. While the case is still open, potential long range consequences have to be documented and included.


Andrew Myers of Derry has law offices in Derry and North Andover. He is a member of the American Association for Justice and the New Hampshire Trial Lawyers Association. Send questions to andrew@attorney-myers.com.

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