Legal Question in Wills and Trusts in California

My childless aunt had a life estate on grandma's property. (Grandpa died in 1999 and Grandma in 2000.) It was declared a nuisance, my aunt was removed & assigned a public guardian. The county gave us 4 grandchildren 30 days to clean the property or receive an interest-bearing lien based on the cost of a Sheriff's Dept. cleanup of the property to be paid before title could be transferred to us. My cousins', who all live elsewhere and whom I have not seen since childhood, hired a local attorney who said they would not help because they did not have title to the property so I cleaned, hired help, disposed of garbage and paid 10k for the clean up so we would not have a lien. Next their attorney sued me, because I am not a client, as part of quieting title from what she calls grandma's imperfect probate, marking "unlimited amount exceeding 25k" on the case cover sheet. (The final distribution took place and the judge signed the paperwork completing the probate so how imperfect could it be?) She advised me in a letter with papers served not to respond and to allow it to enter default, which may have already happened. Why did she choose a lawsuit and mark a monetary amount to quiet title? Is this more than title quieting? At the first case conference today, 11/29, the judge told me to get an attorney. The property needs lots of repair and my $ need to go there. (I am retiring so my $ really need to be saved. I do not have children who will inherit the property. My cousins all have children and grandchildren.) They decided on a date for the next case conference in March. As we left, the attorney told me that she was not seeking a monetary judgment, just quieting title. My cousins said the same. How can I be sure?-- I've been working with the county assessor's office on my own to complete some forms and provide them with a correct legal description of the property which they needed to move forward. This office said that my aunt and her attorney never did what was necessary to establish her life estate with their office and the title is still in my grandparents' names. My aunt no longer lives on the property so my aunt is not of concern to them. They need to reassess the property and transfer title to us but they have not said when that will happen and I am not familiar with the procedure. My cousins' attorney has not contacted the assessor's office. I do not think she can make the assessor's office transfer title any faster but I do think she can take advantage of me by claiming I am benefiting from her work. In fact, there has been no benefit to me. What are my cousins and their attorney doing to me and what should I do?

Asked on 11/30/17, 3:02 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Gerald Dorfman Dorfman Law Office

The judge told you to get an attorney. What more do you need? It appears you do not understand the role of the assessor versus the courts. No one is looking out for your interests in this entire mess. While it is true that attorneys cost money, and you wish you didn't have to incur such an expense, there is no getting around it. Do not wait any longer.

Read more
Answered on 11/30/17, 7:52 am

Related Questions & Answers

More Probate, Trusts, Wills & Estates questions and answers in California