Question: My late husband suffered from Alzheimer's Disease when he borrowed money and signed documents that deeded his home to another person. That person refuses to return title of the home to my late husband's estate even though the loan was paid off in full. What are my rights?
Answer: Generally, when two parties enter into a contract each has an obligation to do some duty or take some action. The lender’s duty was to give the borrower a certain amount of money as agreed in the contract. The borrower had a duty to pay back the lender. Because loaning money is risky business, lenders usually require some collateral or something of value from the borrower so that the lenders are assured that they get either their money or something of similar value if the borrower does not pay back the loan. In this case, the lender had the deed to husband’s house as collateral according to the contract that the husband signed. Once the balance on a loan that is backed by collateral (such as a deed on a house) is paid, the lender’s interest in and right to possess the deed on the borrower’s house has ended.
Possible options for getting the deed returned are to send a certified letter to lender (with return receipt requested) demanding return of the deed on the house by a certain date. (Be sure to keep copies of all correspondence.) If the lender still does not return the deed, it would be a good idea to consult an attorney. In this type of situation it will be helpful to have copies of the contract, any proof of payment especially the final payment, and any correspondence with the lender.
It is also possible that the contract was void because your husband did not have the capacity to contract because of his Alzheimer’s. In order to make this determination and how it affects your rights to the return of the deed, you should see an attorney.
To find an attorney, you can visit the State Bar of Arizona online.
May 22, 2007