Purchase of property from heirs within one year of death not protected from claims of decedent’s creditors.

LaJuane Artis and others purchased a piece of real property from the heirs of a decedent named Woodward before one year had elapsed after Woodward’s death. Nationstar Mortgage, L.L.C., a creditor of Woodward, filed suit in the Norfolk Circuit Court claiming title to the property. The purchasers filed a demurrer claiming that they were bona fide purchasers who could not be divested of title.

Virginia Code § 64.1-183 provides that a bona fide purchaser who buys real estate from an heir will not be liable to the decedent’s creditors. However, the statute also provides that if the sale is within one year of the date of the decedent’s death, the transfer is not valid against creditors of the decedent regardless of whether a suit or report of debts has been filed by the creditor. The statute provides creditors with a quasi lien on the decedent’s real estate for a period of one year.

The court overruled the demurrer on the grounds that: (1) the purchase was made within one year of the date of the decedent’s death; (2) neither the heirs nor the purchasers may defeat the statutory lien; and (3) the purchasers were not bona fide purchasers and could be divested of title in the property by legitimate creditors.