Question: My three children and I have been living in an apartment in central Phoenix since my husband left us three years ago. My mother died last year and I recently received a cash inheritance of $225,000.00. I have now signed a $225,000 purchase contract for a Chandler home. The escrow company says that my husband has to sign the paperwork to disclaim any interest in this Chandler home. What can I do when I have no idea where my husband has been living the past three years?
Answer: If only one spouse is buying a home, the title company will generally require that the other spouse sign a Disclaimer Deed disclaiming any interest in the home. If there is not a Disclaimer Deed from your husband, the title company will generally not want to insure your title to the Chandler home, because your husband may later claim a community property interest in the home. Therefore, you should show the title company that all of the $225,000 cash being used to purchase your home is from your sole and separate property, namely, the $225,000 cash inheritance from your mother. If the title company will still not close the transaction, you may have to contact a divorce attorney. If you have to get a divorce, and if your husband cannot be located by a process server, you should be able to get a divorce by newspaper publication. The divorce decree should state that your husband has no interest in your inheritance of $225,000.
Note: Property acquired by one spouse during marriage is generally community property of both spouses, unless one spouse acquired the property by gift, or by inheritance such as your $225,000 inheritance from your mother.