Name Forged On Deed
Ask the Real Estate Lawyer: Real Estate Law Q&A
REM #LAW 723
By Ilyce R. Glink and Samuel J. Tamkin
Summary: A ThinkGlink reader put her father
in charge of her property and finances while she was incarcerated. During that
time, the title to her home was changed to the father. Ilyce explains how titles
are transferred and concludes that someone must have forged her name.
Q: My mother passed away over 20 years ago, after she had been divorced from
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She purchased a house after she was divorced and my sister and I inherited
it after she passed.
About 4 years ago, I was incarcerated but left my dad to look after my belongings.
He paid all my bills for me with money that I left for him. Somehow in that
period of time, the deed to our house was transferred over to him and his new
He then knocked the house down and he built his own house on it. But I never
got paid for the house or the land.
I would like to know what I need to do to get my land back or the money for
the land. I guess the problem is that I really don’t want to hurt my dad
but want to get some clarification as to how this was allowed to happen without
A: You were in a terribly vulnerable position while incarcerated. Unfortunately,
with the little information you have sent me, it seems that either your sister
or your dad must have forged your signature to transfer the title of the home.
When your mom passed away, you and sister became the owners of your mom’s
home. If the paperwork was done properly, your sister’s name and your
name should have shown up on the public records reflecting your ownership of
When your dad “acquired” the property, he could only have obtained
title in one of three ways and none of them would have been legal. The first
way would have been if your sister sold or transferred the property to your
dad and forged your signature on the deed. The second way would have been that
your dad forged your sister’s and your signature on the deed and transferred
the title to himself. And finally, he might have convinced your sister that
you had agreed to deed him the property, forged your signature and had your
sister sell or transfer the property to him.
You need to figure out what happened. Once you know what happened, you can
investigate how to unwind this unfortunate and probably illegal transaction.
In many places, such as a local public library, you can access public records
for individual properties on the web. You can search the home’s title
by using the address or the tax parcel identification number (available at the
tax assessors office if you don’t have a past tax bill handy). You can
even order the document and download it onto your computer for a small fee.
Finally, you can go to the recorder of deeds office or other office that holds
the property records in your county, and obtain a copy of the deed that transferred
title of the home to your father.
Once you have a copy of the deed you can look it over and determine what you
think might have happened. You will probably see that your signature was forged.
Make sure you get copies of the documents that were used to transfer the title
to your home.
Unfortunately, it seems that you left your father in charge of taking care
of the property but he only took care of himself.
While you may not want to hurt your dad, it seems likely that you’ll
find out he has hurt you financially, not to mention emotionally.
After that, it will be up to you to decide whether to hire an attorney to look
into the transfer further or, if there was a fraud involved, to get the authorities
involved. In addition to the legal issues involved, you may need to have a heart
to heart talk with your sister and your father and hope that the truth comes
Samuel J. Tamkin is a Chicago-based real estate attorney. Ilyce
R. Glink’s latest book is 50 Simple Steps You Can Take To Sell Your
Home Faster and For More Money In Any Market. If you have questions for
them, write: Real Estate Matters Syndicate, PO Box 366, Glencoe, IL 60022
or contact them through Ilyce’s website www.thinkglink.com