Question: My fiance and I have been together for five years.  I own a home, and he helps me with my mortgage payments.  In recognition of his contribution, I added my fiance to my deed.  Unbeknownst to me, my fiance has a large federal tax lien from eight years ago.  We are now prevented from selling the property because of the large lien.  How can the I.R.S. place a lien on my property, eight years after my fiance’s tax lien arose?

Answer: An I.R.S. tax lien is a powerful thing, because it survives at least ten years, and can attach to after-acquired property.  In your situation, the I.R.S. will have a valid lien against your property if it recorded the lien against your fiance in the registry of deeds in your county.

Property owners should always perform a ten year title search on individuals they wish to add as owners of their property.  This search should be performed at the registry of deeds in the county in which your property sits.  This information is available online at  Of course, I advise that an attorney conduct the search and draft the new deed.

Your options may be limited: 1) if the tax lien is small, payoff the tax lien with the proceeds from the sale; 2) if you don’t wish to contribute your equity towards the I.R.S., wait until the ten year expiration of the tax lien.  The I.R.S. may continue the lien by filing a written notice with the registry of deeds.  However, they may miss the deadline and the lien will be expired.  Wait an additional 30 days to comply with potential notice requirements of the tax code.

Billerica Attorney, James Haroutunian, specializes in Real Estate Law and Estate Planning.  Contact him with questions at 630 Boston Road, Billerica, by phone at 978-671-0711,,, or by email at

Money, Finance, Mortgage, Loan

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