Law Library

Myth: After seven years, my partner and I are married by common law.
FALSE: North Carolina does not recognize common law marriage.

Myth: The nursing home or state can take my home if I can’t pay my bill.
PARTIALLY TRUE. Neither the state nor the nursing home can ‘take’ a person’s home. However, in North Carolina, if you die leaving a debt to be paid to a nursing home, or after receiving Medicaid to pay for your nursing home care, a claim may be filed against your estate as part of the probate process. This claim will have to be paid before your heirs can inherit from you. If your estate has no other assets to pay the claim, the house may have to be sold to satisfy the debt. You should contact an attorney to help plan for your future long term care needs. If a loved one has passed and you believe a claim against the estate is possible, please contact our office to discuss how we can help.

Myth: If I purchase property that has been in the family for many years, I don’t need a title search or title insurance.
FALSE. Actually, properties that have been owned by a single family for many generations frequently have the most serious title problems. These might include heirs whose interest was never conveyed, estates that were not administered, judgments filed against family members, access problems and survey errors. These problems often occur without the family even being aware of them. Any time you take title to a piece of property, you should have a licensed attorney examine title and purchase title insurance for your protection.

Myth: Property in North Carolina cannot be landlocked.
FALSE. There is no legal requirement that a parcel of land be given legal access when it is sold. In fact, improper documentation of easements and rights of way are the most common title defects we see. Especially in what was historically a farming community, it was not unusual for neighbors to cross each other’s property without requiring a formal written agreement. Unfortunately, generations later, this may mean that a parcel of land as large as several hundred acres has no legal means of access.

Myth: If I pay taxes on a piece of property for many years, I become the owner.
FALSE: Ownership of real property is not determined by who pays the property tax.