"Equitable title" is a legal theory or doctrine. Equitable title
is the right to obtain full ownership of property
, where another maintains legal title to the property. Legal title
is actual ownership of the property. When a contract for the sale of land is executed, equitable title passes to the buyer upon the signing of the contract - they are the "equitable owner" although the legal title owner still owns the property as per the deed. When the conditions on the sale contract have been met, legal title passes to the buyer in what is known as closing
. Legal and equitable title also arises in trust
. In a trust, one person may own the legal title, such as the trustees
. Another may own the equitable title such as the beneficiary
I moved and transferred the legal title to them (via life estate deed) in February.
They became "legal title" owners in February.
However, because there wasn't a contract for sale of the property to them nor was the property held in a trust whereby they were the "beneficiaries" of the trust - they did NOT have equitable title or ownership in the property.
The legal definition for "equitable title" is:
(1) The interest held by one who has agreed to purchase property but has not yet closed.
(2) The title held by a trust beneficiary, because the trustee has legal title but the law recognizes the beneficiary as having rights.
So, regretfully, unless you can come up with documentation that they were buying the property from you pursuant to contract OR that the property was held in a trust - they were not equitable owners.
I realize that this answer may not be entirely to your liking, and I regret being the bearer of information that you really don’t want to hear. But it would be unfair to you and unprofessional of me were I to provide you with anything less than truthful and honest information. I hope you understand.
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