A deed by heirs, whether in warranty or quitclaim form, shall be effective to pass title to real estate where the same has been of record for a period of at least fifteen years; or, if the deed is of record for less than 15 years, it is established by corroborative evidence that the signatories of said deed are all of the decedent’s heirs-at-law. Title to the conveyed property may remain subject to unexpired claims against the decedent, the estate, or estate tax liens.
Comment 1. Title to real estate of an intestate passes immediately to the intestate’s heirs upon death, subject to the lien of the administrator for the payment of debts, expenses of administration., and other expenses legally chargeable against the estate. In Re Estate of Bettis, 133 Vt. 310 (1975). The heir upon the death of the ancestor has a vested interest in the estate which the heir may immediately convey by deed. The grantee by the deed gets the title of the heir holding the land subject to the lien of the administrator. Austin v. Bailey, 37 Vt. 219, 222 (1864).
Comment 2. Corroborative evidence of heirship may be established through probate or other public records in this or other states, for example, by affidavit based upon personal knowledge from one closely acquainted with decedent’s family history. Jones v. Jones Estate, 121 Vt. 111, 114 (1959). When reasonably possible, the collateral evidence thus established shall be placed of record and cross-indexed to the instrument of conveyance it purports to corroborate.
Comment 3. The fifteen year time period for this standard has no specific Vermont statutory basis, but is adopted because: (a) it extends beyond any applicable statute of limitations for defeasance by the administrator’s or any tax lien, and (b) the likelihood of a successful adverse claim to title arising after fifteen years is remote, reduced inter alia by the number of instances in which the record owner also takes possession establishing an additional independent claim to title by long user.
Comment 4. Comment deleted.
September 9, 2016: Deleted Comment 4; Added Comment 5.
September 2022: Standard revised; Comment 2 revised; Removed Comment 5.