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paula62270

Money in Escrow Account Missing

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My parents sold their house back in 2004 (my sister and I handled the closing) but put $20,000 in escrow for outstanding permits.  We never received that money back and the new owners never used it towards getting the permits.  I know this because I spoke to the new owners a few times.  During the past 14-15 years, I have tried numerous times to contact my lawyer who had the money in an escrow account.  He would always put it off and would delay in contacting us.  I found out that he was sick with renal failure and on dialysis.  We felt bad for him because I was in the same situation, so we gave him some time to get better.  A few years ago, he passed away and we were never notified.  Again, I let some time pass to call his family out of respect to ask about my account or whether there was someone else in his place.  When I finally called, I was given the cold shoulder.  Received no help from his wife, or sons.  His sons are also in real estate and I believe one is a lawyer.  Had numerous conversations with them that led to nothing.  I ended up doing my own research.  Calling banks to see if there was any account with my last name and the lawyer's name in an escrow account.  Still no luck.  I even contacted the NY Law Fund in Albany.  They tried to help me but weren't able to locate the escrow account.  Today I found out that the property is for sale.  Does this automatically release the money since it was never used??   I am at a loss and don't know what to do next.  Is there a statute of Limitations? Can someone please give me advice???

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The only thing I could suggest is that you get a free consultation with an attorney in New York and ask about additional resources for unclaimed money.  I read about your attempts over the year to recoup this money, but you should have sought legal counsel years ago to demand that someone answer for the $20,000.  The fact that you and your sister conducted the closing tells me that the responsibility for this rests solely with you and your sister.  Not to rub salt in the wound, but that $20,000 really belongs to your parents, and your actions breached the fiduciary duty you owed to them.

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On 7/29/2018 at 9:42 AM, paula62270 said:

My parents sold their house back in 2004 (my sister and I handled the closing)

 

In what way did you "handle[] the closing"?

 

 

On 7/29/2018 at 9:42 AM, paula62270 said:

but put $20,000 in escrow for outstanding permits.  We never received that money back

 

We?  why would you have received anything?

 

 

On 7/29/2018 at 9:42 AM, paula62270 said:

Today I found out that the property is for sale.  Does this automatically release the money since it was never used?

 

I can't imagine that the answer could be yes.  However, we obviously have no details regarding the escrow and certainly don't know anything about where the money in question now is any more than you do.

 

 

On 7/29/2018 at 9:42 AM, paula62270 said:

Is there a statute of Limitations?

 

A statute of limitations for what?

 

 

On 7/29/2018 at 9:42 AM, paula62270 said:

Can someone please give me advice?

 

It's not clear why you need advice about anything.  This appears to be an issue for your parents to address.  As mentioned above, we have no information about the terms of the escrow relating to the sale of your parents' home 14 years ago.  You told us that $20k was put into escrow for permits that the buyers never obtained, but we obviously don't know what was supposed to happen to the money if they didn't obtain the permits.  If that money was supposed to go to your parents, then they can have a lawyer review the escrow paperwork and advise them.  It's impossible to know anything beyond that without knowing the details about the escrow.

 

 

22 hours ago, paula62270 said:

What about the lawyers Fund in Albany?  Do you think they might help me?

 

Well...you told us that you "contacted the NY Law Fund in Albany" and that "[t]hey [sic] tried to help [you] but weren't able to" do so.  Note that I have no idea what "the lawyers Fund" or "the NY Law Fund" is.

 

 

22 hours ago, paula62270 said:

Where will the money go if It hasn't been claimed?

 

Unclaimed funds left in a bank account typically escheat to the state after a number of years.

 

 

2 hours ago, rockmehardplace said:

you should have sought legal counsel years ago. . . .  The fact that you and your sister conducted the closing tells me that the responsibility for this rests solely with you and your sister.  Not to rub salt in the wound, but that $20,000 really belongs to your parents, and your actions breached the fiduciary duty you owed to them.

 

Subject to how you answer my question about you "handl[ing] the closing," I agree.  Fortunately for you, the statute of limitations for breach of fiduciary duty probably has run out.

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My sister and I conducted the closing with power of attorney as agents.  Our names were also on the mortgage, and therefore owners of the property with my parents.  Closing date was April 7, 2005.  Here is a better understanding of the escrow agreement:

 

The escrow for unfinished items agreement states, " The sum of $20,000 (Escrow Fund" is herby deposited with (my lawyers name) in a non-interest bearing account for the purpose of guaranteeing the completion of the following repairs/unfinished items:  Certificate of Occupancy or certificate of Completion for Parking Area and Permit for Retaining Wall.  The repairs or unfinished items must be completed on or about July 31, 2005.  If work is required it must be performed in a workmanlike manner, satisfactory to Buyer(s) and Seller(s) and in compliance with all municipal and other governmental regulations.  If the unfinished items are NOT completed by the Date of Completion, Buyer(s) may, at their option employ the necessary parties to perform the unfinished items.  Buyers(s) give Seller(s) authorization to execute all necessary documents to be submitted to the Cit of Yonkers or to any of its departments or boards in order to complete the unfinished items.  Buyers also give Seller(s) or their engineers, contractors, or their agents or employees to enter on the premises or to perform the necessary work in  order to complete the unfinished items.  When the unfinished items are completed and approved the the City of Yonkers. Buyer(s) and Seller(s) will instruct the Escrow Agent to release the Escrow Fund to Seller(s).  Seller(s) shall be sole responsible for selecting the engineer(s) and contractor(s) who will perform the completion for unfinished items and for supervising the completion of such unfinished items.  This agreement shall be binding upon the successors and assigns of the Buyer(s)/Seller(s)." 

 

The city of yonkers took forever to schedule an inspection of the existing parking and retaining wall, which at the time had already been upgraded by my father (he worked in construction).  Eventually the due date expired and buyers claimed responsibility but nothing was ever done.  

 

I am in the process of finding out whether the outstanding permits have been taken care of or still in violation.  Also, if they are still in violation, the buyer has been renting out the parking lot all these years illegally.  

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The way I read your recitation of the escrow fund conditions, your parents, as sellers, were possible for obtaining the permits and completing some unspecified repairs.  Unless your parents obtained the permits and completed the work they were not entitled to the funds in escrow.

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Regardless of who is responsible for obtaining the permits and conducting repairs, the quoted portion doesn't say what happens if the permits are not obtained or the work done by whatever time.  That the buyers may have been using the property illegally isn't any of your concern.

 

I suggest your parents consult with a real estate attorney (and you might want to consult with a separate attorney since your interests appear to be at least potential adverse to that of your parents).

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My parents interests are synonymous with me and my sister.  My question now is since the house is on the market, doesn't that automatically make the agreement null and void (after it sells)?  Regardless of who was responsible, the $20,000 was our money and if it wasn't used by the buyer, then it should be returned to us.  We actually spoke with the buyers attorney last year and the year before to see if he would be able to help us.  He suggested getting in contact with the buyer so they can release the money but my real estate lawyer at that time has since passed away.  In any event, we still sent the buyer a letter explaining our request.  Never heard back from them.  No surprise there.  

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You and your sister are presumptive heirs of your parents, and therefore your interests are not synonymous with your parents' interests.  What does the agreement say about what elements have to be in place for the agreement to be considered null and void?  By your reasoning, the former purchase agreement would be null and void because the house is for sale, but that would hardly make sense.  Are your parents still living and competent to manage their own affairs?  Why did they not pursue this?  Why do I sense that they are gone and you are now actively pursuing the return of this money only because it would benefit you and your sister?

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I was referring to the escrow agreement within the purchase agreement.  My parents are alive and well (father is 83, mother is 76).  They retired 20 years ago and living in their native country, Portugal.  My sister and I (mostly me) have handled all their affairs here in the US since then.   What I meant was that my parents, sister and I are wondering what happened to the money in escrow since the house is now for sale.  

 

For the past 6 years I have been on dialysis battling kidney failure.  Just recently had my third kidney transplant back in Oct 2017.  Yes, of course the money would benefit us.  Especially with all my medical bills.  My sister hardly has time to handle anything else aside from her two kids and three jobs.  So, I am on this site to get a better understanding of real estate law and what options, if any, we have to resolve this matter.  I truly appreciate everyone's legal advice.  

 

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15 hours ago, paula62270 said:

My parents interests are synonymous with me and my sister.

 

Your interests and those of your parents are not aligned because it appears you may have breached your fiduciary duties in connection with the transaction you described.  I'm sure you don't want to believe that, but any competent attorney will tell you the same thing and probably would decline to represent all of you.

 

 

15 hours ago, paula62270 said:

My question now is since the house is on the market, doesn't that automatically make the agreement null and void (after it sells)?

 

No, not based on anything you've posted.

 

 

15 hours ago, paula62270 said:

Regardless of who was responsible, the $20,000 was our money and if it wasn't used by the buyer, then it should be returned to us.

 

Maybe (although it sounds like it was your parents' money, not yours).  Depends on the terms of the escrow agreement.

 

Again, I strongly encourage you to consult with a local attorney.

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