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From Estate Sale To Foreclosure To Court And Then Finally A Successful Conclusion

By Adam Leitman Bailey


When RH first came to Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C., she was in quite a bind. Ms. H, having lost both of her parents, had reluctantly decided to sell the Brooklyn home that had been in her family for the better part of a century. As the sole heir to her parents’ respective estates, Ms. H believed that the property was hers to sell; she had no idea that the chain of title was in such disarray that no title company would or could in good faith permit a conveyance to a third party.

After a couple of failed attempts to sell the desirably-located Brooklyn property, all seemed lost to Ms. H and her husband. Not willing to give up on any client’s matter, her file was turned over to the litigation group of Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. to see what could be done to remedy this unfortunate situation. ALB, P.C. took immediate action to clear title. As it turns out, the property was owned not only by Ms. H’s deceased father, but in part by his sister as well. This sister, Ms. H’s paternal aunt, had died in the early 1980’s, but none of her heirs ever administered her estate. As a result, the property could not be sold until a proper administration was had. Thus, the firm’s first step was to commence an action in the Kings County Surrogate’s Court to administer an estate that had been dormant for over a quarter of a century. It was no easy task, but in just a few months, the firm succeeding in having the Public Administrator appointed to represent the deceased aunt’s interest in the property, partially clearing the way for a legitimate sale.

As part of its efforts in Surrogate’s Court, the firm attempted to locate Ms. H’s cousin, the sole heir of her deceased aunt, to inform him of his potential interest in the sale. Ms. H had not seen or heard from this cousin in decades, and had no idea where to find him. Using every resource at its disposal, the firm searched the country and located a gentleman in Staten Island with the same name as this mystery heir. Ultimately the gentleman could not prove that he was a member of the client’s family, so he was excluded as a candidate for sale proceeds. To this day, the heir has not been located but the Public Administrator, following the leads provided by the firm, is protecting his interest while it continues the search.

This was not the only obstacle that needed to be overcome before sale of the property could be accomplished. When Ms. H’s own parents died, she was diligent about handling their respective affairs. She had been appointed the administrator of each parent’s estate by Courts in both New York and Virginia, where she and her husband reside. However, the Letters of Administration that were issued by the Surrogate’s Court in New York were issued with a common provision which restricted Ms. H from alienating any real property belonging to the estate without further order of the Court. Once again the litigation group came to Ms. H’s aid, opening up her parents’ administration proceedings, preparing and submitting various documents required by the Court and eventually, with the assistance of the transactional department, garnering the necessary order lifting the restriction.

Having cleared the vast majority of title issues that had repeatedly prevented Ms. H from selling the property, the file was then turned over to the transactional department of Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C., where an ALB, P.C.  attorney  handled contract negotiations in conjunction with the Public Administrator’s office to preserve the client’s rights in the sale. The firm negotiated two contracts and worked closely with the real estate brokers to seal the deal quickly and efficiently once a buyer was in place. Negotiations were challenging, but the firm worked attentively and conscientiously towards garnering the best possible deal for Ms. H. The distribution of proceeds was determined in order to properly divide the proceeds of the sale since the aunt’s estate, administered by the Public Administrator, also had a claim to the property and ultimately the proceeds of the sale. In order to continue to move things along at the appropriate pace, the firm had to step in and take over on behalf of all of the Sellers, including the deceased aunt’s estate and its mystery heir, whom we were not representing. The firm also had to deal diligently with the City agencies in order to secure payoffs for tax liens on the property and prevent a tax lien sale or foreclosure action, which would ruin the opportunity for our clients to sell the property.

Once a contract was in place, in order to reach the closing table, the firm set a time of the essence closing date to ensure this transaction would not be delayed any further than necessary. The transactional department assisted the clients in opening a bank account in which to deposit the proceeds of the sale. Since there was no upkeep of the property for over ten years, there were hundreds of Environmental Control Board violations on the property. At closing, the title company held approximately $20,000.00 in escrow for any open violations. The closing went very smoothly and all parties were satisfied with the outcome. Post closing, the firm was able to persuade the City to dismiss over 100 Environmental Control Board liens that were against the property due to the facts surrounding our client’s situation, and the full amount held in escrow was returned to the client, to their delight.

Adam Leitman Bailey participated in the litigation in this case. [redacted] led the transactional team in preparation and the sale of the property.

Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C.

NEW YORK REAL ESTATE ATTORNEYS