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A Blog about Real Estate, How it Can Be Damaged, and Disputes Over its Transfer

This blog is a personal blog written to discuss legal issues affecting Georgia property, and how it is damaged, transferred, and fought over. I write this partly to keep abreast of the law, and partly to offer a forum for my writing. In order to find content, I often analyze Georgia Supreme Court decisions. I try to update this blog as I can, but writing is a time consuming process.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Adverse Possession of Family Land

In Georgia a person may show adverse possession to land, also sometimes called "Squatters Rights," if he can show that he satisfied various elements for proving it.  The showing is fairly complicated, and one has to consult an attorney to get an idea if his circumstances might warrant title via adverse possession.  Stories that lead to a claim adverse possession often involve families living on farm land.

In Defoor v. Defoor, Case No. S11A1977 (Ga., January 23, 2012), the Georgia Supreme Court considered a classic case of adverse possession of property in the mountains in North Georgia.  A grandmother, Millie, had record title.  Although she had nine children, she continued to live on the farm with one of her son's families after her husband died.  Eventually she died, and one of her grandsons ended up in control of the property after his own parents died.  All of this occurred without a change of title on the Gilmer County real estate records.  Finally, a timber company wanted an easement on the land from the grandson.

The easement sale required the grandson to show that he had title before he could give the timber company good title to an easement.  The timber company offered to pay his attorneys' fees and other compensation for the easement, and the grandson filed a petition to quiet title against all of the descendants of his grandmother Millie based on a claim of adverse possession.  The other descendants to his grandmother Millie were co-tenants and had a claim to the property not shown on the Gilmer County deed records.  Their claims had to be extinguished before the grandson could profit from the sale to the timber company.

In Defoor, supra, the grandson was able to meet the requirements for showing that he owned the land via adverse possession.  The grandson was able to show that he and his parents had possessed and maintained the property for more than the twenty years.   He also met the other elements for adverse possession by proving, among other things, that he had possessed and maintained the land in the way Georgia law requires.   The claims of the many descendants of the nine children of Millie were extinguished.

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