Don’s Story

Don was a fifty five year old master electrician. His half-brother, Victor, was several years younger and habitually unemployed. Their grandfather, Anthony, died in 1948. At the time of his death Anthony owned a 4000 square foot home in South Philadelphia.

From 1948 to 2002, the house remained in Anthony’s name and was occupied by various members of his family. In 2002, a new deed was recorded in City Hall, apparently transferring title to Victor. The signature of Anthony, their dead grandfather, mysteriously appeared on the new deed that conveyed title to Victore.

This was not the only questionable deed transferring property to Victor. Don and Victor’s mother had owned the property next door. Just prior to her death in March, 2002, she was in a nursing home and suffering from dementia. While she was in the nursing home, and just before she died, she signed over the title to her house to her son Victor. In short order, Victor had become the beneficiary of two suspect deed transfers.

Victor moved into his deceased mother’s property and put his grandfather’s property up for sale. At some point, however, Don learned that an offer had been made on his grandfather’s property and he became concerned that, even though there were eight heirs to his grandfather’s estate, only Victor would get the proceeds from the proposed sale.

Through a mutual friend, Don learned that attorney Michael Bomstein of Pinnola & Bomstein had successfully handled real estate litigation for many years. Don quickly scheduled an appointment with Mike to find out what could be done to stop the sale and challenge the validity of both of Victor’s deeds. Following a lengthy consultation, Don and Mike decided to file suit.

Mike also advised Don to hire a competent trusts and estates attorney to raise an estate in the name of Anthony, his deceased grandfather. After all, it would be the administrator of his grandfather’s estate who had the right to dispose of the South Philadelphia home.

Acting quickly, Don took Mike’s advice and hired an attorney to file a petition to be appointed administrator of his grandfather’s estate. He also formally retained Pinnola & Bomstein to file suit to stop the pending sale of Anthony’s home.

Within a week’s time, Mike filed a Complaint against Victor in Philadelphia County Common Pleas Court. He also filed a lis pendens, serving public notice that there was a cloud on title and notifying the world that Victor’s right to sell the property was now being contested in Court.

Over the course of the next few years, the suit was contested vigorously by Victor and his attorney. Victor denied that he was the person who had forged his grandfather’s name, even though the property was in his own name; he had complete control over the property; and he was collecting rent from tenants. He also claimed that he had no idea who did sign the deed and put title in his name.

The matter finally went to trial in April, 2013. At that time the judge entered a final decree, finding that Anthony had not signed the 2002 deed, determining the deed was a fraud, and awarding possession of the South Philadelphia property to the administrator of Anthony’s estate.