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Ask Attyadvisor Your Own Question
Attyadvisor, Attorney
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 6881
Experience:  29 years of experience in General Practice, Real Estate Law and Estate Law.
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My ex-husband forged my name to our primary residence and

Customer Question

JA: Hi. What do you want help with?
Customer: My ex-husband forged my name to our primary residence and several investment properties and sold them. How can I get my properties back
JA: Because laws vary from place to place, can you tell me what state this is in?
Customer: Pennsylvania
JA: Has any paperwork been filed?
Customer: Paperwork? I filed a police report last week and a claim against the title insurance company whom insured the properties.
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: However, the response from the title company was I would not be deemed as insured under any such policy
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Attyadvisor replied 9 months ago.

Welcome and thank you for your question. I will be the professional that will be assisting you.

Expert:  Attyadvisor replied 9 months ago.

The title company has no control over forgery. A police report was the correct firs step. Can you explain if forged your name to take take the titles to the properties out of your name or did he forge your signature when he sold each property? Your signature should have been notarized so I would be interested to look into the notary that is licensed an bonded through the State. Was this one or several different notaries? Was this only happening in PA?

Expert:  Attyadvisor replied 9 months ago.

In order to assist you need a little information. Were these forged documents notarized?

Expert:  Attyadvisor replied 9 months ago.

As you will see below forgery is a very serious crime and you will need to alert law enforcement of your husband as he was the party that engaged in the act of forgery.

"In Pennsylvania, a person commits forgery if he does any of the following with the intent to defraud or injure another person:

  • alter a document or any financial instrument without authority to do so
  • create, make or complete any fictitious document or financial instrument, or
  • use or present a forged document or other forged item for payment or exchange.

“Documents or instruments” includes, but is not limited to, wills, deeds, contracts, paper money, coins, credit cards, stamps, seals, trademarks, and identification cards.

Examples of forgery include:

  • signing another person’s name on a check
  • altering the amount on a check without permission
  • cashing a forged check at a bank
  • creating a fake deed or other real estate document
  • altering a financial document such as a promissory note, and
  • using a forged instrument or document to obtain or transfer property or money.

In each example, the offender intends to alter a check or other document or instrument or to use a falsified document or instrument to get money or property that was not intended for the offender. This constitutes fraud or injury to the victim. In this context, injury refers to a loss of money or other legal or financial injury (rather than a physical or emotional injury). For general information about forgery and fraud crimes, see Forgery Laws and Penalties.

Classification of Forgery Crimes in Pennsylvania

Forgery crimes are classified as both felonies and misdemeanors in Pennsylvania, depending on the type of document or instrument involved.

Felony of the second degree

In Pennsylvania, forgery is a felony of the second degree if the crime involves:

  • an instrument issued by the government—paper money, securities or postage stamps, or
  • an instrument representing an interest in a property or business, such as certificates of stock, bonds, or a certificate of interest in a business partnership.

The penalty for a felony of the second degree in Pennsylvania is up to ten years in prison and a fine up to $25,000.

Felony of the third degree

Acts of forgery are felonies of the third degree if they involve instruments such as a will, deed, contract, release, or other commercial instrument that evidence, create, transfer, alter, terminate, or somehow affect legal relationships. Forging a will or deed to property is a felony of the third degree in Pennsylvania because the documents affect ownership and inheritance of property, which are considered legal relationships.

The penalty for a felony in the third degree is up to seven years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines.

Misdemeanor of the first degree

All other acts of forgery in Pennsylvania such as forging a personal check or cashing a bad check are misdemeanors of the first degree.

Misdemeanors of the first degree are punishable by up to five years in jail or prison and fines up to $10,000.


A person charged with a forgery crime in Pennsylvania can raise any general defense available in a criminal case, such as mistaken identity—not being the person who committed the crime—or the defense that the crime did not occur (the signature on a document used in a financial transaction was not actually altered and the document does not contain a false signature, for instance).

A person charged with forgery also can raise the specific defense that he was authorized or believed in good faith that he was authorized to sign or alter a document, such as a check or financial contract.

The fact that the defendant was entitled to collect money from the victim or believed he was so entitled is not a defense to forgery if the defendant was not authorized to change or create a document or present the item for payment. Likewise, forging a receipt to state a debt was paid in full is a crime even if the debt actually was paid in full."

Expert:  Attyadvisor replied 9 months ago.

Please do not hesitate to ask me any additional questions that you may have with regard to this matter as it would be my pleasure to assist you.

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