A.S. v. J.G., Mass Appeals Court
JUDGMENT OF THE TRIAL COURT AFFIRMED/UPHELD, 10/6/2017
This was a civil appeal from the Middlesex County Probate and Family Court relating to a house in a trust in Middlesex County. The trial was about the plaintiffs (A.S., my clients) trying to get a certain deed and trust document invalidated in court relating to their home. They won at trial and the judge ruled in their favor and granted their requests for relief. The plaintiffs were a very elderly couple (the husband had died by the time of trial) and the defendants were five people in total–one of the plaintiff’s daughters (the main defense litigant), her husband, two of her own daughters and a family friend. The daughter appealed her loss at trial (the other defendants did not). I represented the plaintiffs on appeal, who were the appellees.
The basic issues were two claims. One was a claim that the main defendant (the daughter) had forged a deed in or about 2010 and recorded it in the Registry of Deeds, where the deed purported to convey her parents’ interest in the property out to herself, two daughters and the family friend as trustees to a trust. The second claim was that the trust document was also fraudulent. The trial court agreed and the appeals court upheld its judgment.
One weird fact in the case was that there was a previous deed where the parents conveyed the property from themselves to both themselves and to the daughter’s husband. This deed was drafted, signed, notarized and recorded in the Registry of Deeds in 1996. This put the daughter’s husband on deed for free. Lots of trouble and heartache for the parents resulted from this and related matters over the years, quite a lot of it financial in nature (use your imagination).
Even weirder facts followed. The deed deemed fraudulent was recorded by the daughter in the Registry of Deeds in 2010 along with the trust document. But the daughter claimed that this deed itself was actually drafted by herself way back in 1996 along with the previous deed. She claimed that she drafted both deeds at the same time in 1996 and had both of them signed and notarized by all relevant parties in front of the same notary public at the same exact time. But here, while the first deed put her husband on deed and kept her parents on deed, the second deed claimed to convey her parents’ and husband’s interest out of the property and convey the property to her, two of her daughters and the family friend all as trustees of the trust. Why would her husband agree to acquire a property interest in the home in one deed and, in the span of minutes, convey that interest out in a second deed? The husband could not answer this and related questions very well at trial.
So, the daughter claimed that 1) the first deed conveyed the property from her parents to her parents and her husband (no one contested this), 2) within minutes in the same meeting with the notary, her parents and her husband conveyed their interests out of the property to the daughter and the other trustees of the trust, 3) though she recorded the first deed back in 1996, she privately held the second deed for about 14 years until she decided to record it with the Registry of Deeds in 2010, 4) though she claimed to have drafted the trust document also back in 1996 and claimed she had all trustees sign it back then, she also kept the trust document in her private custody for about 14 years until she recorded it along with the fraudulent deed on the same day, and 5) this second deed and the trust document, though the daughter claimed were genuine documents going back to 1996, suddenly appeared just two months or so after her parents filed in court over the house because she seized their house keys and kicked them out (their house!).
There were other issues, just as odd, that were not litigated.
Moral of the story? I often say that, while blood may be thicker than water, it’s not thicker than money! Money is the thickest most viscous liquid of all. And it is a liquid–which is why we refer to it as liquidity.