Fontana, CA asked in Estate Planning, Probate, Small Claims and Real Estate Law for California

Q: Probate hasnt started can a non teanat place locks on rooms? Will a quite title action make an unsigned deed valid?

My grandmother passed and left the deed, leaving the home to her son and nephew, unsigned. Since then her son has collected 12,000 from the teanats and has only payed 6000 toward the mortgage. Is this considered rent skimming or embezzlement? After one teant moved out he placed a lock on the room she moved out of when i asked if it could be removed to be used as a guest room until a new tenant arrives he declined. Does he have the right to do so considering the house is still in my grandmother's name and probate hasn't been started. Can force access to this room? Will a quite title action make an unsigned deed and legal document?

1 Lawyer Answer
James Edward Berge
James Edward Berge
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • San Jose, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: An unsigned deed does not convey legal title to property and does not qualify as a Will. A probate will be required to convey title from grandmother to her heirs at law, typically her children and quite possibly her son. Since her son does not have title to the property, he cannot evict a tenant from the property. Changing locks is constructive eviction and could leave him exposed to civil liability by the tenant who was wrongfully evicted. Rents collected by son also belong to grandmother’s estate. Son really needs to talk to a probate attorney before doing anything further with the property. Depending on facts and circumstances, nephew may also have a claim to ownership of the property if he can prove by clear and convincing evidence why the deed to him was unsigned. Perhaps he paid for the property in which case he might be the true owner of the property. His claim would be a quiet title action.

Nina Whitehurst agrees with this answer

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