When reviewing a chain of title, title examiners are tasked with tracking and reporting a variety of important details. Some of these details make great sense, such as confirming the party names are spelled properly on a deed or that the property’s legal description is correct. Another essential factor we look for when examining the title of a property is the marital status of the grantors (or sellers) on the deed. Under Missouri Revised Statute 474.150, a spouse of a grantor may have a marital interest in the property, so title companies require this interest be conveyed in order to clear title for a buyer. In fact, a recently adopted law, Missouri Revised Statute 442.130, mandates the grantor’s marital status be included on the deed.
Subsection 2 of 474.150 reads that any conveyance of real estate made by a married person at any time without the joinder or other written express asset of such spouse, made at any time, duly acknowledged, is deemed to be in fraud of the marital rights of such spouse, if the spouse becomes the surviving spouse, unless the contrary is shown. In other words, to comply with the law, your spouse must either join you as a Grantor on the deed transfer or explicitly assent and waive his or her rights in said transfer. The lack of spousal assent is treated as a title defect. While signing the deed with your spouse is self-explanatory, how does one alternatively assent and waive his or her rights? The answer is a marital waiver.
A marital waiver is applicable in several circumstances. For example, if one spouse owns property in his or her name individually and wishes to convey it, the non-owner spouse must be party to the deed or execute a marital waiver to avoid being “deemed in fraud” of their marital rights. Another situation that frequently arises is the need for a spouse to execute a marital waiver in the context of divorce. While spouses are divorcing, the sale of real estate is often a part of the settlement process. When one spouse is awarded the property and goes to sell while the divorce is pending, the soon to be ex-spouse must still join the conveyance or assent via marital waiver.
If you are a married person and own property by yourself, please keep in mind the legal significance of accounting for your spouse’s interest. Should you have more specific questions, please contact your Investors Title Company Closer.