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Ask Tina Your Own Question
Tina, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 5436
Experience:  17 years of legal experience including real estate law.
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My case is in Tennessee. I am being sued by (what I believe

Customer Question

My case is in Tennessee. I am being sued by (what I believe to be) an unscrupulous attorney who is secretly working with (helping, aiding, conspiring with) a living person who is his girlfriend. Since neither the attorney nor his girlfriend have any grounds to sue me, they are using my dead mother, more specifically her "estate" as the person suing me.
My mother used this attorney to draft her will. As far as I know, she never had any other use for him. My first question is, can a person's former attorney initiate a lawsuit against someone in their name or in the name of their "estate" AFTER that person is dead? This seems fundamentally flawed to me: Who is the victim? Even if the dead person WAS a victim, how can she bring a complaint where the burden of proof is on her when she isn't here to specify how she was victimized or how she was damaged and can't testify to those things?
What we have here is an attorney who, because of his personal involvement with my youngest sister, is suing me because my sister wants him to. He just isn't using my sister's name, can't use her name without letting the world know that they ganged up on my mother before her death and stole every last penny of cash she had in the world. They thought they were going to get away with her house too by having her sign an eleventh hour will, but they didn't know that I had bought the house a few months before my mother's death so it was not a part of her estate when she died. My sister and her boyfriend (who drafted this 11th hour will) were very disappointed when they found out my mother didn't own a house at the time of her death. They are suing me to void my deed and get the house back.
The thing is, my sister thought she was disguising the fact that she was making herself my mother's primary beneficiary. She had the house bequeathed to her 6-year old and 8-year old grandchildren. She made their father (her son-in-law) the executor of the estate to smooth the way. After my mother's death, he did try. He skipped a step, but he did try. He opened probate and then immediately tried to sell the house, without transferring it to his children first or getting the approval to sell the house from their court-appointed attorney. After he discovered that I owned the house, that it was not a part of my mother's estate when she died, and that my sister (his mother-in-law) was about to be arrested for identity theft and credit card fraud for applying for three cards in my mother's name and then racking them up to $38,000, he backed out and asked the court to appoint another executor. He hasn't uttered a peep since. I guess when my sister's criminal activities came to light it spooked him. He isn't my problem. His children aren't my problem. None of them are trying to take my house away from me.
It's only my sister and her attorney boyfriend. They just can't accept that their plans were thwarted. So, with no one coming forward to sue me who actually had any grounds to sue me, these two (my sister and her attorney) have decided to sue me themselves. In the lawsuit, the Plaintiff is "Estate of ------" (my mother's estate). My second question is, how can an "estate" (a collection of things) sue someone? Don't you have to be a person? Wouldn't it be best if you were a LIVING person? Is any of this even legal?
Next issue: the type of lawsuit these crooks decided to file is called a Quiet Title Action. The Tennessee Code of Civil Procedure says the PERSON or CORPORATION bringing a quiet title action has to have an ownership or possessory interest in the house. Neither my sister nor her attorney qualify. This attorney is acting like my dead mother is speaking to him from beyond the grave and has hired him to quiet title on HER behalf, as though SHE meets the code as being a person with ownership or possessory interest. What gives this attorney the right to represent my dead mother in a lawsuit of this type? I assure you, my mother never hired him, or told him, or even insinuated to him that she would want him to do this.
Next issue: this same attorney filed this Quiet Title Action over three years ago. When I was served with the complaint, I answered it myself, without an attorney. My answer was short and sweet, most of the answers being simply "denied." After I answered, no further action was taken by my sister 'til now. Its been 3 1/2 years. In Tennessee, the Code says a complaint must come to court and a judgement must be rendered within 12 months. So I guess my last question would be: am I hurting myself by responding to this motion to set a trial date, or this first scheduling hearing or whatever they call it? Shouldn't I just submit a motion to dismiss? The hearing is coming up on November 10th. If I don't have a chance of dismissal, don't I need to file a continuance so I can gear up to fight this properly (depositions)?
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Irwin Law replied 9 months ago.

Thanks for submitting your question to JUST ANSWER. You provide many facts and personal observations on a number of separate questions. This forum works best if you state specific key facts clearly and ask questions about those facts. Then I will understand exactly what information you are seeking. If there are separate and distinct questions, please number them in separately numbered paragraphs so I can be sure not to miss anything. if there is too much volume to cover, I will offer our Premium Service, which is a live telephone conference (that is optional with you for $59). I look forward to assisting you.