My House is Your House?

Picture this. You’re an old man. You have a nice house whose investment value is supporting your Hungarian family. You rent it to a couple. The couple decide they want your house. They forge a power of attorney, sign over your house, and sell it! You’re lucky to have a nice real estate agent for a neighbour who tells you she’s astounded to see your house went up for sale and was sold! This causes you to just about have a heart attack. You go to find out what you can do, and find out that despite the fact that the forged signature doesn’t even resemble your own and the person they assigned as your power of attorney doesn’t exist, there’s not a damn thing they’ll do to reverse the series of catastrophic decisions that have been made, and your house is gone unless you can, or want to, buy it back. On top of that, the slimeball who represents the people who bought the house is claiming they are innocent victims and shouldn’t have to give up the house!

Fiction? Nope! This is a very real story. It happened to 89-year-old Paul Reviczky of Ontario.

First of all, this whole thing could have been stopped if one lawyer had used a little common sense. Ok, Power of Attorney documents are pretty important papers. It gives someone else rights over someone’s estate. So, if the person seeking to be a power of attorney shows up to have the document notarized and doesn’t bring the person supposedly giving permission with them, wouldn’t the sensible thing to do be to say, “I’ll notarize this if you bring him in?” I can hear people asking, “Well, what if they bring him in and he’s senile?” Well, if he is, then the lawyer can’t notarize it because the senile guy’s not of sound mind and body! Simple as that!

Second, if the signature is obviously forged, shouldn’t that be the end of it? Identity theft has been going on for years now. It’s not something that’s un-heard-of.

Third, the argument that the buyers of the house shouldn’t have to give the house back is pure unmitigated crap! Um, yes they should! They bought stolen property, whether they knew it or not!

The sad thing is no one can come up with solid ways for people to protect themselves so they’re not in the same boat. I think of my parents, or anyone who owns a house. The only thing I’ve heard is, before you buy a property, you should get title insurance so a proper title search can be done without all the cost and they can find out if there’s anything fishy going on. But what about the person who already owns the house? I was so creeped out by this story that I did a little research. I called the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee and asked them if there was any way for someone to check if someone had registered themselves as their Power of Attorney, and they said there’s not. All the person can do is hire a lawyer. Scary eh?

This case is still being fought through the courts, so the end is yet to be decided. All they have offered him so far is *some* financial compensation. Some? Trust me, I’ll be watching to see how this whole thing unfolds. Hopefully the stress of it all doesn’t kill the poor old soul.

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