Deed of Trust
Andy graduated with an engineering degree from UCLA. A few months after graduating he found a good job at a software company and started making money. About a year later he met a girl at work. They dated for a while and got married. The marriage didn’t last more than a couple of years, and after the divorce, Andy moved back in with his mother. He has two siblings, older than himself and living in places far away from San Jose. Things went great between Andy and his mom for several years; they were like best friends. And then she got sick. The doctors weren’t sure exactly what it was, but it was the brain. They mentioned Dementia or the early onset of Alzheimer’s Disease — they weren’t exactly sure. Sometime before she got sick the mother composed a handwritten will, leaving the house and all of its contents to Andy, because he was the good son. He was the one who stayed behind and took care of her in those hard and waning years. And then, one day she died. The brother and sister flew in for the funeral. After the funeral, everyone came back to the mother’s house, or as Andy was hoping, his house. But his brother and sister had other ideas. Andy’s name was on the deed, but unbeknown to him, so was theirs. That couldn’t be possible, thought Andy. His mother told him they were removed from the deed long ago. Maybe it was a miss sight on her part, or perhaps it was the dementia. Either way, she forgot. The siblings all hired lawyers and went headlong into a legal battle, but it didn’t last long. They went to Family Court where the judge looked at the deed and the will and rendered his judgment. The will, which was handwritten, not documented, or notarized, would not hold up in a court of law. Even if it were drawn up properly it wouldn’t have mattered. As long as Andy’s brother and sister were on the title with him, they were each entitled to a third of ownership. Andy was furious. He threatened to sue in a higher court. Siblings can get funny when it comes to money. After a short war between them, Andy was able to come to terms with his brother and sister. They would allow Andy to stay in the house for as long as he wanted if he was willing to pay them each rent. They agreed on a reasonable amount and Andy remained in the home. Now, his largest wish was to outlive his brother and sister, who were a bit older than he was. Andy is on a strict diet now and visits the gym every day. He’s feeling good and looking fit. He told himself it’s time to start dating again and put the past behind him. His takeaway from the drama was to make sure what your legal standing is when it comes to rights of real estate or anything else. No matter how much somebody loves you and wants to look out for you, it’s still your obligation to check the fine print.