Q: Can a joint tenant/owner have a lien put on house (primary residence) if other owner passes away with credit card debt?
My mother and my grandmother live in Seal Beach Leisure World.
If they are both co-owners and residents (joint tenancy) of this property and one of them passes away (God forbid) with some credit card debt, can the creditor(s) put a lien on the property even though the person passed away and this home was/is BOTH persons' primary residence and they are both owners of the property?
The property is a co-op. If you are unfamiliar with how Seal Beach Leisure World functions, please read this part about what Leisure World owners actually "own":
"When buying a co-op unit you will become a shareholder in a Mutual Corporation. The Mutual will own the unit, the land and the building. You will own the occupancy rights, have a share hold in the Mutual and common areas and will be considered a tenant in your Mutual. You will receive a Stock Certificate and Membership Certificate showing ownership of the stock attached to the unit that you purchase."
A: You really need a California lawyer to respond to this question, but under traditional common law principals (which may not be so common in California) a lien for debt does not arise until it has been reduced to judgment. Thereafter there is a process, pretty much unique to each state, on the process of establishing a "judgment lien".
If the creditor fails to obtain a judgment prior to one of the tenant's death for debts that tenant owes, then full ownership would have passed to the survivor prior in time, and hence prior in stature.
Yelena Gurevich agrees with this answer
A: If they are joint tenants (with right of survivorship) then the property passes to the other outside of probate. There are other reasons a probate may need to be opened and where a creditor can appear. You should down with an estate attorney and go over everything because there is a lot more to it then a simple answer here.
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