20th Jan 2017

“Quiet Title” and “Partition” are not common words, except perhaps to a small group of attorneys that practice in areas such as property and estates.  Yet Mark Zuckerberg is making them headlines with recent legal action in Hawaii, according to the Honolulu Star Adviser.

I guess when you are the founder of Facebook, the sixth richest person in the world, and your 700 acre Hawaiian property alone cost $100 million, you tend to generate a lot of news.

I am not licensed in the State of Hawaii, nor have I looked at all the details of the case, so some of the story does not completely tie together for me.  And the situation appears to involve some very Hawaiian-specific laws, history, and facts.

As this story began to break today, Mark Zuckerberg issued this statement.

What exactly are quiet title and partition actions, anyway?

In Oklahoma, where I practice law, quiet title actions are used to clarify ownership to real estate.  Sometimes mistakes in deeds, court orders, or other legal instruments, difficult or conflicting legal descriptions, or other confusing details in the land records, make ownership unclear (or “noisy”).  Quiet title action can be used to clarify and correct the land records (or “quiet” them) – so that sales, leasing, borrowing, inheritance, and all the other aspects of real estate can go on smoothly.

A certain type of quiet title action – quiet title determination of heirship – can be used to clarify ownership to real estate where a deceased person may have some interest in the property, but there has been no estate proceeding.

Partition is a legal action to divide property among joint owners.  If A and B own a piece of real property together and cannot agree on use of the property, a sale, or other details, they can ask a Court to partition or divide the property.  The Court can divide the land into two equal tracts – one for A and one for B.  Practically, the land is almost always sold and the proceeds split between A and B.  It is almost always better to work out a private agreement between A and B to sell or otherwise resolve the situation.  However, the law will not require A to be “trapped” into ownership with B.  Partition is one extreme option to get out of the joint ownership.

Quiet title and partition actions are not required to be joined together.  In my experience, they usually are not.  Quiet title usually determines who owns and does not own land.  Partition usually divides land between actual owners.  It appears both may be involved in this Hawaii case involving Mark Zuckerberg.

Quiet title and partition actions are often complicated.  There is usually a fair amount of time and expense involved.  And if parties want to fight, I suppose they can go on to great complication, time, and expense.  But most matters in Oklahoma do not require anywhere near the expense set forth in the article.

If our office may be of assistance to you in these areas, do not hesitate to contact us at (580) 338-6503 or at coryhicks@fieldandhicks.com or using any of our contact information in the profile.  You can also visit www.fieldandhicks.com for more information.

This blog contains general information and the opinions of the author – not legal advice; you should seek the advice of competent counsel (attorney/lawyer) when considering any legal issues.


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