Q: What rights do I have from my deceased mother's vacant real estate if I have greedy siblings?
I've been the sole caretaker and tax payer of the property for about 10 year's (at my mother's request), before and after she died, and I'd like to claim ownership. Problem is, the deed is missing, and my mother was only named as a co-owner by my grandparents before they died. But she never transferred the property into her own name. She also left no will, and I have deceitful, vindictive, older siblings that want to sell the property just for the money (which I'll never see a dime from). My siblings have already stolen and sold very expensive jewelry I had given my mother as gifts, and completely emptied out her apartment without my knowledge and threw everything she owned, including my own sentimental items from childhood into a dump truck like trash. Everything is gone except the vacant property. How do I transfer ownership and keep my siblings from claiming it first?
Deeds are recorded in the County Recorder's office. You can contact your local Realtor to do a property search for you based on the address and get a copy of the existing deed. Can you claim the property as your own? Not as against your greedy siblings who will fight you if they think there is value there. Are you entitled to anything for caretaking? Not unless you had a written agreement with Mom and she was supposed to pay you, then you could have a lien on the property, but most likely not. What can you do about greedy siblings? Pray.
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A: My condolences for your loss. Do you have any idea how much the property is worth? If the property remains in the name of your mother, you will probably need to file a Petition for Probate. Estates in excess of $150,000 must go through a court proceeding called probate. Since most real estate in California is valued at more than $150,00, it would be wise to contact an attorney who practices probate law. They can also explain to you how the property should be divided. Fortunately, probate attorneys do not collect their fees until the case is about to end.
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