Q: My husband and I haven’t been together in a year. We are not legally separated nor has the divorce started. We have 2 vehicles both purchased since we have been married but both unfortunately in his name. We’re living in 2 different states, myself in PA and him in Ohio. There haven’t been any issues as far as the vehicles go unit now. Last week his transmission went out and now he is demanding my car. If this was “my” car bought while together married both of us paying for the vehicle is he able to take it and or report the vehicle stolen? My car is the only belonging I am left with. Thanks in advance! (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: You will have a good argument when the court divides your property in the divorce action, in that regardless of who is on the title, it is marital property. However, as to here and now, he is on the title and if he wants to, he can try to take it. The police may or may not let him do it. They are not going to involve themselves in a driveway divorce settlement. They may be persuaded that he has the title. Or, knowing that you are married, they may tell him to hit the road and talk to his divorce lawyer. You may want to tell your local police what is going on in just in case. What you can do is keep the car in a garage, hidden or blocked in, if that is possible. The police will not take a stolen vehicle report where the alleged perpetrator is the wife. In the meantime, you may be able to have an attorney file an emergency motion to give you exclusive possession of the car, pending the divorce proceedings. You may also tell him that such a foolish act will hasten your filing of a spousal support complaint. If his behavior turns to harassment, you can file for protection under the Protection from Abuse (PFA) statute.
Q: My Father is in his late 50s and not in the best health. He inherited my grandmother’s property some years ago. His girlfriend somehow signed her name onto the deed of the house during the transaction. My Father says he was unaware of. I’d hate to see this property go to this girlfriend if something were to happen to him. I asked him about a will and he said that’s not something a son should ask their parents. So, if my dad passes away, does the property and everything on the property go to the girlfriend because she’s on the Deed of the house? (Murrysville, PA)
A: I don’t know. I suggest having an attorney look at the deed. It should be on file in the Westmoreland County Recorder of Deeds. If her name is on the deed as an owner, she has some interest in the property. If she is a tenant-in-common, she will own a divisible one-half interest with your father’s estate when he passes. If she is a joint tenant, with survivor rights, she will own the entire property when he dies. If there is no mortgage or liens, she will own it free and clear. As far as trying to rescind the deed with the argument that she somehow got her signature on the deed without his knowledge, that usually is an uphill battle. However, an attorney examining the deed can determine if it was legally executed, discuss your father’s competency at the time and perhaps shed some light on the situation for you.
Q: I am the borrower of a $21,000 Jeep loan. My ex-boyfriend passed away and he is the owner-he is on the title. Where does this leave me and how can I get paid back?? Am I able to trade in his vehicle if his mother or wife sign off on it? (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: If he is on the certificate of title to the Jeep, and you are on the bank loan, the Jeep is owned by his estate and will pass to the heirs in his will, or if no will, to his intestate heirs. It is not a good situation to be contractually bound to pay for something that you do not own. I would need to know what the facts were that led this arrangement-his bad credit and he was the principle driver? If you were the one paying for this for his benefit, hopefully the mother and wife will be agreeable and sign it over to you. If not, and they want to liquidate the vehicle, you may be able to file a claim against his estate if one is filed. I suggest a consultation with an attorney with whom you can share all the missing facts and documents.
Q: The father let his son move back home in 1989 but the son was disturbed and abusive so the father started staying with someone else over 21 years ago. The father has clear title and has paid for all utilities and maintenance and kept getting his mail at the house. His son was welcomed as a guest until 2014 when it was discovered that he had filled the house with a hoard. The father wanted to use his house because it was very close to the hospital where he was getting treatments. In 2014 the father gave the son over a year to correct the code violations or move out in 2015. Now the son is claiming the house should be his and changed the locks.
A: The son can claim anything he wants but my guess is he won’t find a lawyer to challenge father’s title to the house. There is old common law that if a person uses another person’s real estate, as his own, notoriously, to the exclusion of the other person, he can claim it by the doctrine of adverse possession. It is a novel procedure and I have never seen it enforced. If the father has paid all utilities and maintenance for all of these years, the son has hardly used the property to the exclusion of the father. I think the father can evict the son. The father may want to consult with a real estate attorney and give son proper notice to vacate.
Q: My mother passed away suddenly and the mobile home I currently live in it and it is in her name. She left no will but may have wrote something. I am also concerned with medical providers putting a lien on the home.
A: If you have no other siblings, or, have siblings that have no interest in the mobile home and will waive it over to you, you may be able to inherit it with some sort of small estate petition. Under PA law, mobile homes are not considered to be realty, but are viewed as personal property, like a motor vehicle. Small Estate Petitions can be used to settle an estate when the property is not real estate and does not exceed $50,000.00. You may want to check if there are any liens on it, or judgments against your mother that would attach to this asset before you get involved with it. I would talk to the trailer park people or association for information and take any paperwork you can to a lawyer. (West Mifflin, PA)