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  1. #1

    Default How Can an Occupant of a Jointly Owned Home Keep the Co-Owners from Selling the Home

    My question involves real estate located in the State of: California

    This is in California.

    There is a house property that a married couple gave to their 8 children when the married couple died. All 8 children now have their name on the deed of the property. All 8 of the children decided to give the house to one of the 8 children, Mike, so they all signed the papers that would give all the "ownership shares" to Mike that was going to own it, and who was now moved into it with his wife. The papers with all the signatures that would transfer the property to Mike was found to be invalid because his sister Bridget used a fake name (she was running from the authorities). When Mike tried to have the process redone, Bridget refused to sign the paper again to have it properly done, so it was never finished. But all the siblings were content to have Mike and his family live in the property anyways.

    Now, a few years later Mike died of diabetic complications, but his wife and kids continued living in the house without any fuss from Mike's siblings. His wife, Samantha, paid all the property taxes, etc., all the taxes and legal stuff was completely taken care of by her.

    Now, a few years later again, all the remaining 7 siblings secretly agreed together, and came to Samantha and said they are going to evict her and sell the house. Samantha doesn't want to leave.

    What are her options? Since her husband Mike's name is still on the deed that currently carries the authority, did his share of the ownership go to her after he died?

    Does the fact that she has been taking care of all the expenses and upkeep completely by herself carry any weight?

    Do the 7 siblings have the authority to force her out of the house?

    Does the invalid paper that shows they had all signed it over to her carry any weight as evidence if the situation went to court?

    Does adverse possession exist as an option here?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
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    8,123

    Default Re: Multiple Deed Names Want to Evict, Sell. Occupants Don't. What Can Occupants Do

    Right now Sam (Mike’s surviving spouse) has a problem: she is not a not record owner of the property (at least not yet) and she has no long term lease agreement with any owner of the property. Mike was an owner of the property, but he died. His share of the property went to his estate. But you made no mention of anyone probating Mike’s estate. Had his estate been probated, one of things that would have happened is that his share of the property would have been probated and transferred to his beneficiaries/heirs. That transfer would have given Sam a recorded interest in the property, assuming Mike died intestate or that Mike left a will giving Sam his share of the property. As the owner of the property, she would have the right to live there. She may want to get that probate started ASAP to fix that problem. That should have been done shortly after Mike died. There may be complications to doing that now years later.

    California is a community property state, but in general community property does not include property that one spouse receives by inheritance. It is possible that Mike and Sam nevertheless converted that inherited property to community property, but more facts would be needed to sort that out. If it was community property, then Mike’s surviving spouse would be an owner of the property, but that ownership is not recorded yet so that puts her into a position of having to prove the community property to the court in the eviction if she wants to argue she owns a share of it via community property.

    Sam cannot claim ownership by adverse possession because she had been living there with the consent of at least one owner up to the point where they threatened to evict her.

    Bottom line here is that Sam might be able to make the case she owns an interest in the property, either a beneficial interest as a beneficiary of Mike’s estate or because she and Mike owned the share together as community property. But since that interest is not yet recorded in the deed record that makes this more challenging for her. She really should have sorted out what her interest in the property was years ago to avoid the problem she has now. I would recommend Sam see a probate lawyer ASAP to start getting this stuff sorted out and for help in fighting the eviction should that come about.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    16,380

    Default Re: Multiple Deed Names Want to Evict, Sell. Occupants Don't. What Can Occupants Do

    Quote Quoting Taxing Matters
    View Post
    Right now Sam (Mike’s surviving spouse) has a problem: she is not a not record owner of the property (at least not yet) and she has no long term lease agreement with any owner of the property. Mike was an owner of the property, but he died. His share of the property went to his estate. But you made no mention of anyone probating Mike’s estate. Had his estate been probated, one of things that would have happened is that his share of the property would have been probated and transferred to his beneficiaries/heirs. That transfer would have given Sam a recorded interest in the property, assuming Mike died intestate or that Mike left a will giving Sam his share of the property. As the owner of the property, she would have the right to live there. She may want to get that probate started ASAP to fix that problem. That should have been done shortly after Mike died. There may be complications to doing that now years later.

    California is a community property state, but in general community property does not include property that one spouse receives by inheritance. It is possible that Mike and Sam nevertheless converted that inherited property to community property, but more facts would be needed to sort that out. If it was community property, then Mike’s surviving spouse would be an owner of the property, but that ownership is not recorded yet so that puts her into a position of having to prove the community property to the court in the eviction if she wants to argue she owns a share of it via community property.

    Sam cannot claim ownership by adverse possession because she had been living there with the consent of at least one owner up to the point where they threatened to evict her.

    Bottom line here is that Sam might be able to make the case she owns an interest in the property, either a beneficial interest as a beneficiary of Mike’s estate or because she and Mike owned the share together as community property. But since that interest is not yet recorded in the deed record that makes this more challenging for her. She really should have sorted out what her interest in the property was years ago to avoid the problem she has now. I would recommend Sam see a probate lawyer ASAP to start getting this stuff sorted out and for help in fighting the eviction should that come about.
    I agree with all of this but I will add that after Sam establishes her ownership the other siblings could file a partition action to get the property sold. She would receive her fair share of the proceeds in that case, but it would still end up with her having to move.

    I would be consulting an attorney about whether or not she can sue the siblings for their share of property taxes and maintenance over the years. It may not be possible, but I would still look into it.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
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    6,992

    Default Re: How Can an Occupant of a Jointly Owned Home Keep the Co-Owners from Selling the H

    Quote Quoting SkipperPilot
    View Post
    The papers with all the signatures that would transfer the property to Mike was found to be invalid because his sister Bridget used a fake name (she was running from the authorities).
    How is it that nobody saw that Bridget used a fictitious name at the time? Where these documents signed in the presence of a notary?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
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    Default Re: How Can an Occupant of a Jointly Owned Home Keep the Co-Owners from Selling the H

    WHO determined the original deed was invalid just because Bridget used a pseudonym? The first thing I'd do is run this whole thing by a proper real estate attorney to see if the initial deed isn't, in fact, valid (either entirely or for the parts not involving Bridget).

    I presume Mike never applied for title insurance either. I wouldn't take property from my sainted aunt without owner's title insurance. You can now see why.

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