I and my two siblings are searching for a better home for Mom. Sister and brother, who spend very little time with Mom, belie...Read more
Who Gets Cash Hidden in House By Deceased Former Owner?
- April 8th, 2013
Imagine you bought a house and, a year and a half later, you discovered bundles of cash that had been hidden away by the deceased former owner. Who would be entitled to the money -- you or the former owner's estate? Confronted with just such an unusual case, an Oregon appeals court has overruled a lower court and determined that the new owner may keep the windfall.
William and Helene Valoff owned a house in Milwaukie, Oregon. After Mr. Valoff's unexpected death, all assets of his estate were transferred to Mrs. Valoff. Following Mrs. Valoff's death, her estate sold the house to Helen Sollars. The sale agreement required the estate to leave certain specific personal property (such as a stove and a refrigerator) but to otherwise "remove all personal property (including trash and debris)" before the closing of the sale.
Local Elder Law Attorneys in Ashburn, VA
Felinton Elder Law & Estate Planning Centers
Mindy Felinton concentrates in the areas of Medicaid planning, Veterans' Benefits, asset protection, nursing home planning, elder law, wills, estate planning, trusts, living wills, powers of attorney, probate administration and trust administration and began her legal career 30 years ago as an Assistant State Attorney...
Hale Ball Carlson Baumgartner Murphy PLC
Attorney Samantha Simmons Fredieu is an associate at Hale Ball. Ms. Fredieu graduated magna cum laude from Vermont Law School where she was the symposium editor on the Vermont Law Review, a production editor on the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law, and a member of the Moot Court Advisory Board. She has clerked for...
Margaret A. O'Reilly, PC
Margaret A. O’Reilly is an estate planning and elder law attorney with over thirty-five years of legal experience. Attorney O’Reilly graduated from Duke University with a degree in psychology, and received her law degree from Northeastern University School of Law in Boston, Massachusetts. For over 15 y...
About a year and a half after the closing, an electrician working on the house found bundles of money hidden above the ceiling of the basement. The bundles were bound with rubber bands and adding machine tapes bearing Mr. Valoff's handwriting. Because of uncertainty about who owned the money, the police seized and counted it and found that it totaled about $122,000.
Ms. Sollars argued that she should receive the money because she was the rightful owner of anything left in the house after the closing. The Valoff estate countered that it remained the owner because it did not intend to transfer any right to the money when it sold the house to Ms. Sollars. A trial court agreed with the estate, reasoning that the sale agreement was for the transfer of a house, not of money that neither party had known about. Ms. Sollars appealed.
On September 24, 2008, the Oregon Court of Appeals reversed the trial court and ruled that Ms. Sollars is the owner of the money. The court concluded that the sales agreement's reference to "all personal property" unambiguously included the money found in the house. The fact that the money's existence was not known at the time of the sale makes no difference, the court held.
To read the full text of the case, Sollars v. City of Milwaukie (Or. Ct. App., No. CV06020213; A132996, Sept. 24, 2008), click here.
Last Modified: 04/08/2013