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At what point does land change possession in a livinging the time of death or when the deed is changed & recorded

Bakersfield, CA |

My father died last January and he had a living trust. I am the reciepient of some farm land that has been in my family for generations. My stepmother is the executor of the trust. The will was read to me by the trust's attorney. At that point the attorney said that the attorney would take care of transferring the property into my name and that all I had to do is wait until I received the deed, but I wasn't given a time frame. It has been 10 months and I haven't received it. I've tried to call the attorney's office to ask where the attorney is on transferring title, but the attorney does not return my call. My second question is: Is it customary to take 10 months to transfer a title in a living trust?

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Attorney answers 2


The property should have been transferred into the trust to "fund" the trust soon after its execution. Prior to death, your father was most likely the trustee, which meant he had certain control and power over the property that was owned by the trust. Upon death, the property should be transferred according to the instructions in the living trust. Completing transfer deeds and filing them does not take very long, not 10 months. However, it is possible there are some other complications with the estate. But you should get in touch with the attorney who was handling it and if you cannot, you may want to consider obtaining an attorney to help represent you.

The above answer is not "legal advice" as specified under any pertinent rules governing the Professional Responsibilities of Lawyers and should not be relied upon. An attorney-client relationship has not been established by virtue of this correspondence. Legal issues are often complex and involve local laws and facts which may not be effectively communicated without a complete consultation.


Your question is far more interesting than you think. First, you need to segregate the concept of "possession" from "legal ownership". If you dig hard enough in California case law and statutes you would come to understand that as soon as the contingency of the death of the Trustor was met, you became the beneficial owner of the property. The problem is that at that point you don't have recorded legal title. When a property is to pass via a trust, the trustee of the trust records an affidavit of trust to remove the title from the now deceased trustor/trustee and thereafter executes a deed to the rightful beneficiary. However, this may or may not be done immediately. For instance, there may be other factors to consider such as whether or not a Federal Estate Tax Return must be filed, and whether or not there are any outstanding debts or other claims againsst the estate in which case those may have to be resolved before you can get clear legal title.

Upon your father's passing and his trust becoming irrevocable, you should have gotten a notice pursuant to Probate Code section 16061.7 of your right to receive a copy of the trust, trust accountings and to contest the trust. You also have a right to receive periodic accountings which includes status of the trust administration.

Quite often trusts of married couples are created as A/B trusts in which case the estate is held in trust for the benefit of the surviving spouse for the remainder of their lifetime before any assets are passed on to the ultimate heirs (usually the children). This may be the case here, in which case you may have a misunderstanding as to when you will be receiving this estate.

I urge you to contact local legal counsel to help you work your way through these mattes.

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