Huntington Beach, CA asked in Real Estate Law for California

Q: My parents purchased a property about 30 years ago and both own it as joint tenancy. When it was purchased,my mom signed

An agreement in front of an attorney that when the house is sold, my dad will get all the money. We recently found out there is a mistress. My questions are: 1) Are there anything my mom can do about the document? 2) If nothing is done and after my dad passes away, if the mistress is a beneficiary of my dad, can she claim the money when the property is sold? Thank you.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Adam T. Carralejo
Adam T. Carralejo
  • Santa Barbara, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: When two people own a property as joint tenants, if one dies the other automatically owns the whole property. So yes, if your mother dies first, your dad will own the whole property. If your father dies first, your mother would own the whole property. This will happen regardless of any will or agreement saying otherwise. Any beneficiary under a will (such as the mistress) wouldn't have a right to the property.

That said - people sue for rights even when they don't really have them and create all kinds of problems. Also, either joint tenant can 'break' the joint tenancy, changing everything. Ideally your parents resolve this issue right now to ensure the property is eviscerated in litigation between the mistress and you and your mother.

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