property ownership

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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property ownership

Before my father died he turned ownership of his commercial property to my nephew with the stipulation that it was ours jointly. My name couldn’t be put on the deed because I owed a school loan and my father thought a lien could be put on the property if I couldn’t make payments. I have recently moved back from San Francisco and am staying in the house with nephew and his family. I am having issues with both he and his girlfriend. What are my rights? Would I need an affidavit from family members stating that what I am saying is true?

Asked on September 20, 2018 under Real Estate Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

You don't own the property and there is no way to establish that you do.
1) You are not on the deed: the deed establishes ownership.
2) A contract to buy or acquire real estate in the future must be in writing to be enforceable; an unwritten, non-contractual promise, statement of intent, etc. about propety ownership is not valid in CA.
3) Even if there was something in writing saying that he wanted you to share in the property, unless you gave him something in exchange for that promise (e.g. paid something to him; cancelled a debt he otherwise owed you; etc.), that would not constitute a binding contract. For there to be an enforceable contract, each side or person must get something of value.
Unfortunately, nothing in your question indicates an enforceable right to the real estate; it does not appear to be yours.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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