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Elder abuse. I got a NOTICE OF TRUSTEE'S SALE. Now trustee says it is selling a different place, not mine, but it lied to me

Sacramento, CA |

I am almost 90 years old. I wrote a letter to the trustee telling it the NOTICE OF TRUSTEE;S SALE HAS MY ADDRESS and MY PROPERTY DESCRIPTION and the DEED OF TRUST they are enforcing does NOT have my address or property description. They wrote back telling me they were selling a different address from mine. Their website says they are still selling MY home address. The Notice of Trustee's Sale is recorded showing MY address. I have no money for a lawyer, unless I do not eat any food or pay for power, then it would be a few hundred $. I am on social security. The trustee lied in the letter, I believe to convince me to sit back and do nothing. Is this elder abuse? What can I do?

Attorney Answers 3


Tot should show the notice to a lawyer and get a consultation right away. If you cannot afford the consultation fee I'll give you one free of charge. Make sure you do not sit idly by and let your house be taken riright under you.

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Please contact HERA -- Housing and Economic Rights Advocates - ASAP!!. Their phone number is: (510) 271-8443.
It is a California statewide, not-for-profit legal service and advocacy organization. HERA's mission is to ensure that all people are protected from discrimination and economic abuses, especially in the realm of housing. They focus on the needs of those who are most vulnerable, which includes lower-income people, the elderly, immigrants, people of color and people with disabilities.

Another option is the Legal Aid office in Sacramento - they do not charge for their services. Following is their address & phone number:

Legal Services of Northern California - Sacramento Office
515 - 12th Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-551-2150

Please act quickly and let them know that a foreclosure sale is pending!!

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Hello. I'm sorry to hear about this distressful mix-up! You should be able to fix this on your own, please do not go without your necessities. One of my elderly clients had the exact same problem, and I received very much the same answers that you received.

You did not mention whether the "trustee" with whom you corresponded was a "bankruptcy" trustee, or if they were affiliated with an attorney's office/mortgage company. Assuming the latter, you should know that dozens of these notices are sent out every week to individual's who are in default (stopped making payments) of their mortgage. Unless you have failed to pay your mortgage, it's likely there is a mistake on the documentation concerning the person, property and/or mortgage about which the letter refers.

The above is what happened in regard to my client's home. The attorney's office, which represented the mortgage company, simply made an error in the address of the letter received by my client. And just as in your case, the attorney's office was too busy to bother with a correction in their own documentation, or provide a letter acknowledging the error!

If this company (trustee) 'is' trying to defraud you, it would not only be elder abuse, but a crime as well. However, before you report it to your local police or Adult Protective Service office, you may wish to consider taking some further steps on your own.

I suggest that you take the document(s) you received and go down to your county Recorder's Office. Ask the clerk to please help you determine the current status of your home. Bring your property tax bill too because your property will be "legally" identified by the Assessor's Parcel Number (APN) rather than your physical address. Ask the clerk if they see/find any encumbrance/lien, such as a mortgage or tax debt, upon your property. If they do not, then there is no basis for a trustee sale.

If the clerk does find any type of recorded debt, or claim of ownership, then ask them to help you find the contact information (usually included) on the recorded document, so you can take the next steps to contact them.

If the clerk is unable, or unwilling to help you, then ask to speak with a supervisor. Tell them you will wait until someone "in charge" is available to see you. Do not let them avoid helping you by saying "they cannot give legal advice"; you are not asking for legal advice, you are asking a public servant to help you find information within a document(s), i.e., the owner of the encumbrance/lien, etc. Certainly they, or 'someone' at the Recorder's Office is familiar with the documents that are recorded, and will be able to find the contact information of the person who requested recordation of the document. Every county is bound by specific laws/rules regarding the type, and form, of document that is acceptable for recordation, including who requested the recordation and/or to whom the document should be returned after recordation.

If you do not find an encumbrance/lien against your property, or the Recorder's Office has cooperated but truly cannot assist you further, then you should consider contacting the local Adult Protective Services office for your county/area, or your local police. If you do not find APS to be helpful, or the police are not willing to investigate because no crime has been committed (yet), then try finding a non-profit legal agency in your area.

If after all of the above, you are still concerned about your legal rights, then you should consider hiring an attorney. I suggest using a real property or bankruptcy attorney to help you discern the legal issues involved with your residence. Once you find the contact information for some reputable attorneys, then you should ask whether they provide a "free" consultation and, if not, would they consider charging you a discounted rate.

Do not be deterred, just keep a steady course. You certainly didn't make it to 90 by being shy or weak, so don't start now!

Barbara Bangs is a licensed attorney, in California, who also earned a Masters Law Degree in Taxation. Any legal information contained in this answer is specific to individuals who are seeking (or have) Medi-Cal and may not be applicable in other State-specific situations, or to other areas of law. Anyone reading this answer should seek the advice of an attorney in their own State or in the area of law applicable to their question.

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