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Our Results - 2019

Sep. 2019

Suzanne Elovecky obtains decision defeating claim to condo unit

A Suffolk Superior Court judge rejected the claim of a mother to her deceased son's condominium unit in which he had held title, upholding the man's widow's ownership rights to the property.

Following a two-day bench trial, the judge found that the mother failed to prove her claim that the unit should be awarded to her in trust, even though the judge had found that the plaintiff and her deceased husband had paid for the unit in 1992.

At the time of the purchase, title was placed in the son's name alone, and remained in his name alone up to the time of his death in 2016.  The judge found that the son paid real estate  taxes and condo fee expenses from his checking account for most of that time.  He and his wife (Ms. Elovecky's client) declared the unit as a rental property and claimed deductions on their income tax returns. 

In contrast, his parents did not file a homestead on the property, did not seek tax exemptions due to their senior status, and did not take deductions for real estate taxes on their tax returns.

The judge found that Massachusetts law barred placing the unit in a resulting trust for the mother because she failed to rebut the legal presumption that the condo was a gift to the deceased son, as the parties' actions were consistent with the son's ownership, and not the parents'.  The judge also rejected the claim for a constructive trust because the mother failed to demonstrate that she and her deceased husband relied on their son in carrying out the purchase of the condo, given that the mother and her deceased husband were experienced business people and their son was wholly dependent on them financially at the time of the purchase.  Additionally, the parents had significant experience with real estate transactions at the time of the purchase of the condo, while it was the son's first transaction.

The judge ruled in favor of Ms. Elovecky's client, who, after being appointed personal representative of her husband's estate, inherited the condo and holds title in her name. 

Ms. Elovecky concentrates her practice on complex commercial litigation, including real estate and trust disputes.  Tyler Chapman and Corrina Hale worked with Ms. Elovecky on the case.