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How to Deal with Tricky Transfers

Bamboozling transfer agents: six attempts. This year, I have seen a record number of attempts to bamboozle transfer agents. Attempt number 1: a shareholder whom we’ll call Amy (all names here have been changed) produced a power of attorney allowing her to transfer an apartment from boyfriend Bob to Amy, without disclosing that Bob was dead and had living relatives/beneficiaries. Attempt number 2: Cindy, the executor of her mother’s estate, sought to transfer the lease and shares to a trust to permit Cindy to live in the apartment without disclosing that her sister, Daisy, had equal rights to inherit the apartment but would receive no benefit from the apartment while Cindy lived there. Attempt number 3: Ed, the beneficiary of decedent Fred, sought to sell an apartment without revealing that the federal government had filed tax liens against Fred in Florida, where Fred had lived in the last years of his life. Attempt number 4: Helen wanted her ex-husband, Ira, removed as a co-owner of their co-op. George, Helen’s lawyer (and also her father), claimed that Ira had consented to the transfer of the apartment to Helen but was not willing to sign any documents. Attempt number 5: Karen wanted the apartment transferred to herself without any documentation from her ex-husband, Larry, because, according to Karen’s attorney, photocopies of 40 pages of court documents “clearly” showed that Karen would be entitled to the apartment. Attempt number 6: Linda, the court-appointed guardian for her mother Mary, sought to transfer Mary’s apartment to Linda to reduce Mary’s assets to qualify for Medicaid, even though the powers granted to Linda under the guardianship were limited to providing for support of Mary, and contained no legal authority to dispose of Mary’s assets.


If any of these transfers had been carried out as requested, the co-op could have been subject to thousands of dollars of valid claims from other parties. Each of these cases involved buildings I represent and none of the transfers were done as requested because I have successfully trained managing agents to recognize that any transfer involving a decedent’s estate, trust, power of attorney, divorce, partnership, corporation, LLC, or other entity form of ownership, or in any other way “unusual” must be handled in conjunction with me as the building’s attorney. I have established a complete set of requirements for each of the described types of transfers: executors must have explicit probate court authorization to sell; federal and state waivers of estate tax liens must be produced, and legal opinions must be rendered by counsel for estates, trusts, LLCs, and other entities. All affected parties not present at closing must be adequately represented by counsel and all documents must be reviewed by me. The cost of the review and the transfer agent’s usual fees are paid by the party involved. Result: the co-op is protected against possible scams.


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