07 Jun Deed Mixup Alters Joint Ownership for Two Brothers
Case Study, Bill Schaaf, Walnut Creek Office
One of our clients, an unmarried man with two grown children wanted to create a Revocable Living Trust. He thought he owned two properties with his brother, and he wanted to make sure his children inherited his half of these properties when he died.
We have access to current deeds
We explained that our comprehensive Living Trust package also comes with a Will, Financial Power of Attorney, and an Advance Healthcare Directive, and he was delighted to be taking care of all of this at once—something that he’d been putting off for a long time. Putting a property in a Trust requires a deed to change the title of the property to the Trust. Because the client didn’t have copies of the current deeds, we acquired copies of them for the two properties in question.
Responsible practice requires that we work from the current deed for a property in order to prepare a new deed. Who knows where the deeds were? Hint: They weren’t in that big package of papers they took away from the title company when they bought the properties. To save our clients a trip to the County Recorder, we subscribe to a service that allows us to pull up most current deeds–a tremendous help to our clients.
No joint ownership…
What we discovered: Each brother was now the sole owner of one property—there was no joint ownership, as they had believed. Through the years they’d refinanced the properties to capitalize on low interest rates, and their names were no longer on both titles. This was not what they wanted, so they were delighted to be able to correct this. The California Document Preparers solution: back to 50/50 ownership.
We created two deeds to restore their 50/50 ownership first. Then we created two deeds to transfer their 50% shares to their individual Trusts, creating the succession that they wanted. We also suggested both brothers take the new deeds to the assessor’s office and explain that originally both homes were owned 50/50 and now they are back to their original 50/50 ownership. This would help them avoid reassessment, which could have cost the brothers $5,000 a year in additional property taxes!
Don’t underestimate the importance of a deed
Many people underestimate the importance of a deed, but it quickly becomes apparent when they get ready to sell their home or other property. It’s really very simple: Without clear title to your property, you won’t be able to sell it. If you need to transfer a deed for your property, contact one of our three Bay Area offices.