Question: Last month my husband and I got into an argument about selling our Mesa home and then moving into a retirement home in Sun Lakes. We are in our early 80s and have owned our home in Mesa for 35 years. I became very angry with my husband. Without his knowledge, I recorded a quit-claim deed transferring my one-half interest in our home to a charitable organization. I have been very upset since recording this quit-claim deed because, if I die before my husband, my understanding is that my husband will own only one-half of our home. According to Arizona Real Estate Law, is there anything that I can do to cancel this quit-claim deed without telling my husband?
Answer: A quit-claim deed is not a representation that the grantor has any transferable interest in the real property but, if the grantor does have a transferable interest in the real property, this interest is conveyed to the grantee. Did you have a transferable interest individually in the home? The answer to this question depends upon how you and your husband held title to your home. If you and your husband bought your home 35 years ago you probably took title to your home at that time as joint tenants with rights of survivorship. If so, and you never changed the title to your home, either you or your husband could transfer or mortgage your respective one-half interests in the home. Therefore, the quit-claim deed to the charitable organization for the one-half interest in your home would be enforceable, and your only remedy would be to request that the charitable organization convey your one-half interest in the home back to you.
In 1995, however, Arizona adopted “community property with right of survivorship.” Therefore, if you and your husband after 1995 changed the title to your home from “joint tenants with right of survivorship” to “community property with right of survivorship,” the recorded quit-claim deed to the charitable organization would be ineffective, and you would still own your one-half interest in the home. The reason is that under Arizona law any property owned as “community property with right of survivorship,” “community property,” or “husband and wife” is community property, and can only be transferred or mortgaged by the signing of both spouses.