Los Angeles, CA asked in Criminal Law, Real Estate Law, Probate and White Collar Crime for California

Q: Uncle started a probate case for my grandmother. She did not own real estate, so I thought. How can I undo/stop probate?

I want to stop this probate case. It is fraudulent! My grandmother did not own any real property. Turns out that supposedly I gifted my dying grandma my house! That is a LIE. No wonder I didn't know about any probate case until recently. My uncle was doing this very quietly. I didn't know I gifted my home. And if this was true then he still be acting in bad faith because I am her granddaughter so I am next of kin also right? But I never been served or notified by any court.Anyways, can anybody help me please?I'm stressing alot over this matter. I seen the papers that were filled at the city or hall of records the paper has my signature and it is NOTARIZED! I recognize the notary woman but why would she be willing to do this big fraud action. She owns a Foreclosure Company in Glendora.I think she also has a real estate license.It too easy for her to just notarize and walk in a paper and that's it TITLE CHANGED on my house!HOW CAN I FIGHT THIS?Not fair! I inherited thi house from my mom.

2 Lawyer Answers
Bruce Adrian Last
Bruce Adrian Last
  • Probate Lawyer
  • Pleasant Hill, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Dear Los Angeles:

That's a lot of questions. Off the bat, I recommend that you speak with a lawyer right away about how to defend your self. But here is some basic information to help you make that consultation more efficient. I'll also provide some information about how to find a lawyer below.

If the intervening parent between you and your grandmother is deceased, then you would be an intestate heir to your grandmother. Unless the relationship is broken by a a step-child/step parent bond. (That is, the relationship is not not by blood or adoption) Even if there is a step-child/step-parent "break" in some limited circumstances the courts may consider you on the same footing as a blood/adopted relationship.

If you are an intestate heir, you are entitled to notice of the proceedings even if there was a will, unless the Administrator (or proposed administrator) was unable to locate you despite reasonable diligence. You may file a declaration with the court explaining your relationship to the Decedent and your current address to advise the Court of your situation. (You will also want to keep informed of the proceedings and appear at hearings so you don't miss anything.)

You can also file a "Request for Special Notice" which requires the administrator to serve you with most, but not all, items filed in the case.

Fighting a property deed in a Probate Matter uses a Probate Code section 850 Petition to "quite title" to the property. This allows the Probate Court to determine who is the owner of the property in question. And, the assistance of a lawyer cannot be recommender enough as these are procedural dense.

If you do not know where to find a lawyer, I would try your local county bar association. Most California county bar associations provide a lawyer referral service. For a small, or sometimes no, fee you are matched with a lawyer in your legal area of need, who provides you a 30 to one hour consultation.

Best of luck.

David L. Crockett
David L. Crockett
  • Probate Lawyer
  • Newport Beach, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: I sympathize with your situation. There are fraudulent real estate transfers from time to time and is takes a huge effort to unwind them and get the property title back into your name. This is something that you must retain a lawyer to handle for you and to go through all the facts and circumstances to see what your case is all about.

A quiet title lawsuit needs to be filed ASAP to prove the supposed "gift" deed was fraudulent and was done without your knowledge or consent and to ultimately get a Judge to agree with you and clear the legal title. It may take as long as a year to get through the court system and your lawyer may be able to tie up the title to the property by recording a lis pendens if you have the facts to justify that.

Also, something has to be filed in the probate court and it is likely that the probate executor would be a defendant in the quiet title lawsuit. Again, a lawyer you would retain for this purpose would have to review the entire probate file to see what is going on there.

In addition, you should talk with your police/fraud division as they do prosecute criminal fraud such as forged signatures on deeds and forged or improper notary seals. I had a case like this and the DA opened up a criminal investigation but couldn't find the perpetrators. However, I did win the quiet title lawsuit so my client got his legal title back but it cost him thousands in legal fees and a year of court hearings to get it done.

In summary, you need to put the heat on all parties involved as quickly as possible before legal timelines and legal time limits are missed.

Your lawyer will also need to sort out your rights to inherit which will depend upon what the will say or if there is not a will then what the laws of intestate succession applied to your case would say.

David L. Crockett, attorney/CPA/broker/Martindale Hubble AV preeminent rating

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