In this installment of “Ask Nick,” Fortune Title President Nick Timpanaro addresses who, related to the heirs of the property, should be named in a tax foreclosure complaint if the original property owner is deceased. Nick points out that judgments can be run on people who ultimately are not named in the final complaint.
Question: Hi Nick. I have a general question that came up during our preparation of tax sale foreclosure complaints. If the property owner is deceased, and we name the heirs instead in the complaint, do we need to have judgment searches of the heirs and name the heirs’ judgment creditors as defendants?
The answer, according to Nick, is that there should be judgments run on anyone who potentially has interest in the property. He also specifically addressed four possible scenarios you should consider.
Nick’s Answer: The underwriters always want judgment searches run on anyone who has a potential interest in the property.
If any of the heirs can claim the property through specific devise in a written will, I would say, YES, you need to do a judgment search.
If the decedent leaves the property to his/her heirs through a residuary clause in a will, but it is within one year of the original owner’s Date of Death, I would answer NO.
If the decedent leaves the property to his/her heirs through a residuary clause in a will, but it is over one year of the original owner’s Date of Death, I would answer YES, you need to do a judgment search.
If the case is intestate (i.e., the owner dies without a will), I would say, YES, you should do a judgment search.
Once we have the judgment searches run, we can further determine which creditors would need to be included in the foreclosure action.
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