Thursday, September 18, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

I’m being kicked out of my family home by a cancer charity

By
From page HSR2 | May 10, 2014 |

Q:  My brother died in 2004. At the time he was living in the home we were raised in and which my father left to my brother after he died in 1972. When my brother passed away I sold my home and moved into the family house since I was the only other sibling. This week there was a knock on the door and a man handed me what he called some legal documents. It turns out I’m being evicted by a well-known cancer charity. Needless to say I figured this had to be some sort of mistake. There was a law firm down in San Diego listed on the paperwork the guy had given me and so I called them to explain that this was my house. By the way, I should mention at this point that the house is completely paid for and there is no mortgage so there couldn’t have been a foreclosure. Well, the man pulled the file and told me that my brother had something he called a live estate on the property and when he died the charity inherited it. I’m really confused. This was my dad’s house, and then my brother’s, and now it’s mine. Does any of this make sense to you?

A:  Maybe. There’s a lot missing from your story, but let me try to fill in as many blanks as I can.

I’m betting you misunderstood the San Diego attorney and that what he told you was your brother had a “life” estate in the house. These aren’t that common and so it takes a little explanation.

Most of us think we either own a piece of property or we don’t. The truth is it’s never that easy.

The analogy law professors use when teaching budding lawyers about real estate is to think of a piece of property as a “bundle of sticks.” Each stick is some type of right in the property.

For example; you could buy a house in a subdivision. There’s a bunch of those sticks that goes along with your ownership. You can live on the property, plant grass and trees, build a deck, throw a party, refinance, sell, will it to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals after you die, etc.

But even then, you wouldn’t hold all of the sticks.

The city undoubtedly would have an easement in the front of your property where they can plant a tree or access the water main. Utility companies likely have easements elsewhere on your property that you can’t build over or forbid them from accessing. State law dictates how you have to construct your deck and would prevent you from having a nuclear reactor in your backyard.

You may live in a community with a big set of CC&R’s that control everything from how many dogs you can have to the color of your house.

All of these are sticks that are part of your house’s bundle but that you don’t own.

In a life estate you simply own an even smaller piece of the bundle.

In short, you have the right to live on the property and treat it like anybody else treats their property. The difference is your rights die with you.

In other words; you can remodel, build your deck, and even refinance if you can find a lender, but when you die the whole thing automatically belongs to somebody else.

For example, if you had a life estate and sold the property, the buyer gets to have it only for so long as you’re alive. When you die, the buyer’s interest goes away, since they only bought the ownership interest you had.

Life estates are an ancient way of holding title. They are primarily used for estate planning purposes and often for complicated tax avoidance.

My educated guess at what happened was your dad gifted the house to the charity, but reserved a life estate for your brother. When your brother died the house reverted to the charity automatically.

Now my hunch is the charity didn’t know anything about this, which is why it took 10 years to come knocking on your door. But somehow they recently discovered they owned the house. It’s likely they had it investigated and found you. Now they want you out of their house.

There are some possible defenses that are way beyond the scope of this column, but you’ll need to get the advice of an attorney to see if there’s anything that can be done.

In the meantime, you’d better do something quickly because eviction actions can proceed from start to finish in just a matter of weeks.

Tim Jones is a real estate attorney in Fairfield. If you have any real estate questions you would like to have answered in this column you can contact him at SolanoScene@TJones-Law.com.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • S KMay 10, 2014 - 8:30 am

    Man, if anyone needs an Attorney FAST, this guy does. And I'd be heading straight away down to your office Mr. Jones, if I were him, because of your obvious knowledge of real estate law. I can't think of it at the moment, but his best defense may be (What is it called), when someone has had access to your property for, I think 5 years, and now can claim it??? At the very least if he loses it, I would make those suckers go back that ten years re-reimbursing me for all the property taxes paid and any and all home improvements. That demand alone, may make them just give him the property back

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

Suisun council candidates all voice business-friendly platforms

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Theatre DeVille in Vacaville closes

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Focus on school attendance now, always

By Mayrene Bates | From Page: A2

 
Pepperbelly’s for sale

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

Jury selection begins in 2011 Fairfield murder trial

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A3

 
Seniors get help at Kroc Center health fair

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Drug court success stories tell their tales

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Suisun City Senior Center seeks holiday donations

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Lunafest returns to Fairfield in November

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Weather for Sept. 18, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: B10

 
Fairfield police log: Sept. 16, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

Suisun City police log: Sept. 16, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

 
.

US / World

Emotions mount on final day of Scottish campaign

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
More than 2,000 homes threatened in California fire

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Maps provide early warning of California fire risk

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
School district police stock up free military gear

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5 | Gallery

NASA’s Maven spacecraft reaches Mars this weekend

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
US military role in Iraq raises combat questions

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Police: Ambush suspect was military re-enactor

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
House grudgingly approves arms for Syrian rebels

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Ex-VA doctor: Phoenix report a ‘whitewash’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Doctor says Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has cancer

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

US scientist: Ebola unlikely to become airborne

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Liberia president praises US for Ebola help pledge

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Obama reaffirms opposition to US combat in Iraq

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
AP Interview: Iraq premier says no foreign troops

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

.

Opinion

Give new crime report a chance

By Kelvin Wade | From Page: A7

 
Why Obama needs congressional authority to wage war

By Albert R. Hunt | From Page: A7

Democrats shouldn’t rely on pot and gay marriage

By Ramesh Ponnuru | From Page: A7

 
Homeless find welcome in Vallejo

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A7

 
.

Living

Today in History: Sept. 18, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Sept. 18, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

My brother fails to make an effort to when it comes to my kids

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

 
Horoscopes: Sept. 18, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

Directors Guild finds TV diversity hiring stalled

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

U2 returns to iTunes Top 100 — 26 times

By Los Angeles Times | From Page: B4

 
.

Sports

Rodriguez gets 1st MEL soccer win since return to league

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

 
Giants snap tie in 9th, beat Arizona to narrow gap in West to 2

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
49ers’ Kaepernick fined for inappropriate language

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Sharks sign D Braun to 5-year, $19 M extension

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Rockets acquire Jason Terry, picks from Kings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Panthers remove DE Greg Hardy from active roster

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Barry Bonds appeal heads back to court

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

NFL, union agree to new drug policy, HGH testing

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Raiders rookie Derek Carr focuses on job at hand

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Pegulas’ bid to buy Bills OK’d by NFL committee

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
FSU benches Winston for 1st half of Clemson game

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Umpire West suspended 1 game for grabbing jersey

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
After making ‘mistake,’ Vikings bench RB Peterson

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

.

Business

Brown signs ride-sharing insurance legislation

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
US homebuilder confidence soars in September

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

Anthem, hospitals join to offer new insurance plan

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Drag queens dress down Facebook over names

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

Wells Fargo pays $290,000 in sex harassment case

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Fed signals plan to keep key rate at record low

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

.

Obituaries

Margaret King

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9