How do you prove ownership among siblings on a joint venture when only 1 person is on the deed?

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How do you prove ownership among siblings on a joint venture when only 1 person is on the deed?

In the 1950’s, 3 sisters bought a house. It was purchased to be a common family home. The sisters equally paid the down payment and subsequent mortgage payments, however, only 1 sister’s name was on the official deed of trust. The 2 sisters (who were not named on the deed but were equal partners in the jt venture) died within the last 10 years, each without a Will. The remaining sister recently passed away and in her Will, she states that her interest in the property is only 1/3. How do you prove the 2 sisters heir’s interest in said property?

Asked on February 13, 2012 under Estate Planning, California

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss and for the problems that have ensued.  Here is the problem that generally crops up with real estate matters: interests or transactions in real property have to be in writing in order to be valid.  Other wise it violates what is known as the statute of frauds.  The fact that the one sister acknowledges only one third ownership in the property may not be enough.  How exactly the Will is worded may be a plus.  I would take a copy of the Will to an attorney to review.  Then for proof you would need copies of payments made for mortgages, taxes, improvements, etc.  Good luck.


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