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  • Writer's pictureRobert Sosower

Marital Interest in Real Property

In North Carolina, the law requires that both spouses sign a deed to convey marketable title. It isn’t uncommon for spouses to ask why their other spouse must sign when their other spouse wasn’t on the deed; or are a “non-owning” spouse; or it was property acquired before marriage; or this was a gift, devise, or inherited property. The reason that North Carolina law requires each spouse to sign to convey marketable title is each spouse has a marital interest in the real property.

Marital interest in North Carolina in short state that if the owning spouse conveyed real property to another without the other spouse joining in the conveyance, the other spouse will still have a marital interest in said property. The reason why the other spouse has a marital interest in the real property gets into North Carolina estate administration principles. These North Carolina estate administration principles essentially state that the marital interest cannot be exercised during the lifetime of the spouse who owns the property, but rather asserted by the widower spouse once the owning spouse passes away. Therefore, having both spouses sign a deed eliminates any potential marital interest a spouse may have in the future.

There are exceptions of course where one spouse can own property in North Carolina free and clear from their spouse. One exception for example is a free trader agreement, which is signed by both spouses, and it relinquishes the non-owning spouse from any ownership or even marital interests. If you have any questions about marital rights, please contact our law firm.

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