Q: dad passed No will/lt He added friend to deed as joint tenant Im only blood kin Am I entitled to his 1/2 estate, etc
I live in Vallejo CA. His home is and he lived in American Canyon California. I have a copy of his death certificate, my birth certificate, the house deed. My mother previously passed away and my dad never remarried. The friend was added to the deed as follows: grants to dad, a single man and friend, an unmarried woman, as joint tenants, that certain real property in the City of American Canyon County of Napa State of California, commonly known as address, and more particularily described as follows: the lot #, unit #, date , map pages, etc in the county recorders of napa county on 8/4/2008. Signed by dad and notorized
A: You may have a problem. Joint tenancy exists when two or more persons are joint and equal owners of the same undivided interest in specified property. The main characteristic of joint tenancy is the right of survivorship. When a joint tenant dies, his or her interest in the property is terminated, and the estate continues in the survivor or survivors. The deed will describe the grantee as follows: "to A and B, as joint tenants." The words "with right of survivorship" are not required. Upon the death of one joint tenant, the title automatically passes to the survivor. There may be other relevant facts. Send me an email if you would like to discuss.
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As Mr. Valentine said, you may have a problem. You should speak with a lawyer right away about the details of the case.
If I were to analyze the case, I would need considerable more information gained though an in-person interview to determine if there were grounds to challenge the deed. For example: When was the Deed recorded? What was the relationship between Dad and the friend? When did it start? Did it change between the date of the deed and your father's death? How was your Father's health and how did it change from the date the deed was signed and his date of death? Did the friend provide care giving services to Dad? Are there any reasons that you Dad would not wish you to inherit from his estate? How old were you in 2008 and what is your age now? How was your relationship with your Father? Did your Father ever discuss his desires for his estate? Did you know about the deed?
The reason for all the questions is that people sometimes engage in "back alley estate planning" to do estate planning. For example, placing a friend as a joint tenant for the purposes of avoiding probate and under the agreement the recipient will use their power to distribute the estate to designated parties. Normally this is done to avoid the cost of creating a will or trust or due to misinformation about things like MediCal. (And more often than not, the cost of "back alley estate planning" exceeds what creating an estate plan would have cost, and always exceeds the cost of litigation.)
Without the details, only the most basic analysis can be done.
For this reason, you should discuss your case with a lawyer. If you do not know where to find one, you should call your local county bar association. Most county bar associations provide a lawyer referral service which matches you to an attorney in your area of need. The attorney then provides a consultation for a small or no fee.
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