Lim Ruger litigator Mark Hansen recently defeated an attempt by a client’s stepmother to strip the client of her home of 35 years. The client, a renowned pediatrician in Southern California, was given money by her father to purchase a home in Pasadena, while she was still in medical school. For reasons known only to him, the client’s father asked her to place legal title to her home in the name of a New Jersey corporation. That corporation, whose ownership was never known to anyone other than the client’s father, was declared void within a few years of the client’s purchase of the house. After the client bought the house, her father frequently visited the client, including after his marriage to the client’s stepmother. Both the father and stepmother often referred to the property as the client’s house. Unfortunately, title to the property was never transferred to the client before her father’s death in 2011. Almost immediately after the father died, the client’s stepmother began asserting that the client’s house of 35 years belonged to her father’s estate, of which the stepmother was the personal representative and principal heir. The stepmother also indicated that she planned to take action to sell the house out from under the client.
Lim Ruger’s attorneys then brought suit against the stepmother, her son from a prior marriage, and the defunct corporation, to preempt any such action. The complaint asked the Court to transfer title to the house to the client. After a bench trial, the Court found entirely in the client’s favor. The Court ruled that the client had acquired ownership of the house through adverse possession, and ordered that title to the home be placed in the client’s name.