My brother and I have ownership of a mobile home in CA that our parents left us. It went through probate in 2007-2008. I want to buy my brother's share and we have agreed on a fair price. What do we need to do now? Do we need a lawyer? Can we just fill in the transfer form?
I forgot to say that we own the land as well as the mobile home. Does that change anything or make it more complicated?
Real Estate Attorney
You may not need a lawyer depending on your answers to the following questions and issues:
1. Completion of your parents' probate in 2007-2008 should have provided you with an order from the probate court determining that you and your brother share ownership of your parents' mobilehome (according to your facts). But unless you or the attorney handling the probate took that order to the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), which is the state agency responsible for the titling and registration of mobilehomes, the title may never have actually been transferred to you and your brother.
2. If you and your brother have a registration and ownership certificate in your names issued by HCD, then the title was properly transferred to you following the probate. If you do not have title in your names, and you do not receive annual tax statements from HCD or the County Tax Assessor where the mobilehome is located, then you have some more work to do.
3. If the mobilehome is located in a mobilehome park and you have been living in the mobilehome and have already been approved for tenancy by the mobilehome park, then a transfer of your brother's interest in the home to you should not be a problem. If the home is in a mobilehome park and you intend to move into the home following your purchase from your brother, you MUST apply for tenancy with the mobilehome park PRIOR to purchasing the mobilehome from him. (Civil Code Section 798.74) If you apply for tenancy and are denied by the park management you don't want to have ownership of a mobilehome that you will be unable to occupy.
4. If title has been in your name and your brother's name, and you have timely paid the annual registration and taxes on the home, then processing of paperwork with HCD will require your brother's signature releasing his interest in the mobilehome, and a statement by you at to how you wish your name to appear on the mobilehome title. Not only will you be required to pay a nominal transfer charge but you will also be required to pay a tax to HCD based on the value of the mobilehome you are purchasing. The fact that you already hold title to half the value, should reduce this fee (tax) by half.
5. Go to http://hcd.ca.gov/codes/forms/index.html and look at the mobilehome ownership transfer form, the multi-purpose form, and the others that relate to a transfer of title to a mobilehome. If you already have the original title and ownership certificate issued to you and your brother, then he can release his ownership interest by signing where indicated on the reverse side of the ownership certificate, and this form will need to be sent or taken to HCD along with the appropriate transfer fees and taxes so that title can be issued to your name alone. If title to the mobilehome was not transferred to you and your brother following the probate, there will likely be back taxes, and possible penalties that must be paid before title can be transferred to you.
6. Your home in Murrieta, CA is not that far from the Southern California office of HCD, located at 3737 Main Street, Riverside, CA 92501-3337, Phone 951-782-4420. I would call them first, explain what you want to do, and what forms you have already completed with your brother's signature. They will be able to advise you if additional forms are required.
If they can tell you specifically what transfer fees and taxes you will have to pay, then you may be safe in mailing all completed documents and a check for the fees to that office. If there is any uncertainty, you may be safer to drive to the HCD office in Riverside to complete and pay for the transfer of ownership, and leave with a receipt in your possession.
Maurice A. Priest
Attorney at Law
7420 Greenhaven Drive, Suite 125
Sacramento, CA 95831