Legal Question in Real Estate Law in California

My Grandmother passed away and left her Estate to a cousin and myself with 25% to Easternstar. My cousin came up with the 1st mortgage document on my fathers house dated 1984. My grandmother passed away 9/13 and my father 2/13. My stepmother has been living in the house for 30 years with my father and has paid all the property taxes up to date. She paid on the 1st mortgage from 84 to 96 when she lost her job. My grandmother and grandfather were moving next door and building a house and was going to erase the 1st mortgage on the house around 98. What can I do or find out to let my stepmother who has the Title on the house not be forclosed on by my cousin?

Asked on 9/21/13, 12:17 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

Bryan Whipple Bryan R. R. Whipple, Attorney at Law

This is a difficult question to answer in an on-line Q&A forum because so many details cannot be brought out, even if the question ran on for paragraphs or pages. First, a lawyer would need to examine several groups of documents to get a clear picture of who is legally in control of the situation, and whether there are any statutes or case law that would allow the other party to undermine that control in a well-pled lawsuit. Among other problems, the statutes of limitations for actions to enforce a deed of trust, including nonjudicial foreclosure, are quite long, see Civil Code section 882.020 (ten years after final maturity date or whenever the last payment is due. See also the case of Ung vs. Koehler (2005) 135 Cal.App.4th 186 for a matter that might be somewhat similar to yours. I recommend that you take all the documents you have to an appointment with a local real-estate attorney, preferably one who also has some experience in administration of estates. There may be some flaw in the documentation, some fact you didn't mention, or some equitable principle that could be raised to defeat the cousin's foreclosure.

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Answered on 9/21/13, 2:48 pm

William Christian Rodi Pollock

I agree with Bryan. I would start, however, by contacting a title company and getting a preliminary title report on the property to see exactly what is in the chain of title.

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Answered on 9/23/13, 11:15 am

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