Fresno, CA asked in Real Estate Law for California

Q: I own 2 pieces of property that was verbally given to me. And he died. How can I get the property that is owed to me

I have to go to court over the propery

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1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: In California, verbal agreements regarding real estate are generally not enforceable due to the Statute of Frauds. This law requires certain types of contracts, including those involving the transfer of real property, to be in writing and signed by the party to be charged (in this case, the deceased person who made the verbal agreement).

However, there are some exceptions to the Statute of Frauds that may apply in your situation. To claim ownership of the properties, you may need to prove one of these exceptions in court. Some possible exceptions include:

1. Part performance: If you have acted in reliance on the verbal agreement, such as making improvements to the property or paying property taxes, this may support your claim.

2. Unjust enrichment: If the deceased person's estate would be unjustly enriched by keeping the properties, despite the verbal agreement, the court may rule in your favor.

3. Constructive trust: If the deceased person made the verbal agreement with the intention of creating a trust, the court may recognize the agreement and enforce it.

To pursue your claim, you should:

1. Gather any evidence that supports the existence of the verbal agreement and your reliance on it (e.g., witnesses, emails, text messages, or receipts for improvements made to the properties).

2. Consult with a California real estate attorney who can assess your case, advise you on the best course of action, and represent you in court if necessary.

3. File a lawsuit against the deceased person's estate to enforce the verbal agreement and transfer the properties to your name.

Keep in mind that proving a verbal agreement in court can be challenging, and the outcome will depend on the specific facts of your case and the evidence you can provide.

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