Gerner & Kearns Co., L.P.A.

Kentucky and Ohio: Differences in real estate law - P. 2

An English economist once said, "Landlords grow rich in their sleep without working, risking or economizing." As volatile as real estate markets can be today, many might argue that landlords can't always sleep easy. Still, real estate remains a key commodity in the Kentucky and Ohio economies and as we noted in the last post, regulations concerning land transfers are complicated.

One big reason is because laws regulating transactions, whether through sale, inheritance or other means, vary state to state. In this post, we take a look at Ohio. 

Deeds

The handling of deeds is one key point of difference between Kentucky and Ohio law. To be valid in Kentucky, both the buyer and seller must sign a deed. In Ohio, the only person required to sign the document is the grantor, that is the property's seller or individual transferring the property as part of an estate plan legacy. If more than one person holds an ownership stake in the property, each seller must sign the document.

Ohio also requires that any instrument conveying property include the name of the person who prepared it. And, where Kentucky law requires some statement on the deed of the real estate's value, Ohio's does not.

The issue of dower

You may be familiar with the word dowry. It's the set of assets a bride's family might give a husband or his family to mark the marriage. Both Ohio and Kentucky law recognize the concept of dower. While both terms deal with a transfer of property as it relates to spouses, they are different. And in application, dower is something that can seriously disrupt property transfers if care is not taken.

Dower was instituted to protect widows from impoverishment in the event of a husband's death by assigning her a certain interest in his property at his death. Today, in both Kentucky and Ohio, the law assigns that right to the surviving spouse, regardless of gender.

In both states, the sale of property held in one spouse's name can't occur unless the dowered spouse signs away his or her rights. Any transaction submitted for recording without that signature is invalid.

It's noteworthy that legislation is pending in Ohio to abolish dower rights. It has not happened yet. So, in such an ever-shifting landscape, working with skilled legal counsel is the way to maintain surest footing.

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