Legal Question in Real Estate Law in California

My father and his girlfriend jointly owned a rental home together. My Father just passed away at 95, he had a will not a trust. He and his girlfriend verbally said who ever passed first the other gets their half of the ownership of the home. My Fathers girlfriend put the house in her trust before my Father passed. She assumed it is her home. We were told it does not 100% belong to her. She now has a choice to sell and we split or buy us out, (myself and the other family members.) She now has called and told us the house belongs to her because the deed is joint and the house is paid off.

Can you help?

Asked on 5/16/10, 11:52 am

3 Answers from Attorneys

Maria Kao Feldsott & Lee

If the property is held in joint tenancy between the girlfriend and your grandfather, then upon your grandfather's death, the girlfriend owns 100% outright.

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Answered on 5/21/10, 11:59 am
Bryan Whipple Bryan R. R. Whipple, Attorney at Law

You should probably check out the facts yourself (it's not that difficult) as to how title to the rental property was held, but if it was indeed owned in joint tenancy, Ms. Kao is correct. Full title vests in the other joint tenant when one dies, without regard to wills, trusts, marriage, etc.

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Answered on 5/21/10, 12:13 pm
Anthony Roach Law Office of Anthony A. Roach

I suggest having an attorney review the title documents, before you give up. If the property was held in joint tenancy at the time of your father's death, she would own the property outright by right of survivorship. You raise an issue, however, that may be an exception. You state that the girlfriend conveyed her interest to a trust. When property held in joint tenancy is transferred directly to a revocable inter vivos trust, the conveyance terminates the joint tenancy. (Civ. Code, 683.2( subd. a)(1).) This usually means that they conveyed it to a trustee, who is a third person. If the joint tenancy was severed by her conveyance into trust, then she and your father would have become tenants in common. At that point, your father's heirs would have a 50% interest in the real property, and she would have a 50% interest.

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Answered on 5/21/10, 1:14 pm

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