If you did not sign a deed you are not liable for any mortgages or liens that may be on the property. This is especially true if there was no mention of you assuming the mortgage or liens. Moreover, if you did not assume and mortgages or liens on the property than you likely to the property subject to a lien or mortgage. When you take subject to a lien or mortgage the former buyer is generally the one that is liable to the debt on the property not the unassuming purchaser.
However, with that said, if you did not sign a deed, but filed and recorded your interest in the deed you will be considered liable for any mortgages or liens. A filed and recorded deed is considered a waiver of not actually signing a deed. Generally for a deed to be valid it must be signed by the grantor, indicate who the grantor and grantee are, and adequately describe the land to be transferred. The deed also must be delivered to the grantee. Words are usually not sufficient but a showing of intent to give the deed are sufficient to show that a deed has been delivered. For instance, if you left the deed with a friend and told the friend, “Please give this deed to my son when I die”, then the deed has been delivered to your son. However, if you said “Please give this deed to my son when I die. But, if I ask for it back before my death drop it off at my house”, then a deed has not been delivered because you have not shown the intent to release control of the deed. To actually deliver the deed you must for legal sake actually give up control to the deed.
A deed can be rejected upon delivery. So if the son in the above example does not want the property he would reject the deed upon delivery personally to him and the deed would return to the estate of the grantor. This tends to get complicated when a grantor gives a deed to someone and then wants it back. For example, let us say you gave a deed to your daughter, but two months later decided you wanted the deed back because you wanted to give it to your granddaughter and wanted to give the daughter your property in the Bahamas instead. Even if the daughter agreed and gave you the deed back, you would not be able to convey that deed to your granddaughter. Once you have given the deed to your daughter and she has accepted it, the deed belongs to her because you have given up control of the deed. So any conveyance you now make would be invalid, especially if the daughter already records the deed. Only a bona-fide purchaser in the course of business may have a claim against the daughter, but even those claims might fail. A bona-fide purchaser is a person who takes property after recording a deed the might be owned by another party who did not record their deed and the bona-fide purchase bought the deed without knowledge another party owned the property already. Back to the daughter hypo though, even if your daughter wanted to give you the deed back she could not. She would have re-convey the deed to you with all the formal deed requirements and formalities.
If you have additional questions regarding best business practices check out our business section. If you came to this article because you’re looking for more information in regards to wills and trusts we have you covered there as well.