ALLONGES, ASSIGNMENTS AND ENDORSEMENTS: THE REAL DEAL

28 Jul

From: Charles Cox [mailto:charles@bayliving.com]
Sent: Monday, June 04, 2012 10:52 AM
To: Charles Cox
Subject: ALLONGES, ASSIGNMENTS AND ENDORSEMENTS: THE REAL DEAL

ALLONGES, ASSIGNMENTS AND ENDORSEMENTS: THE REAL DEAL

Posted on June 4, 2012 by Neil Garfield

ALLONGES, ASSIGNMENTS AND INDORSEMENTS

Excerpt from 2nd Edition Attorney Workbook, Treatise and Practice Manual

AND Subject Matters to be Covered in July Workshop

ALLONGE: An allonge is variously defined by different courts and sources. But the one thing they all have in common is that it is a very specific type of writing whose validity is presumed to be invalid unless accompanied by proof that the allonge was executed by the Payor (not the Payee) at the time of or shortly after the execution of a negotiable instrument or a promissory note that is not a negotiable instrument. People add all sorts of writing to notes but the additions are often notes by the payee that are not binding on the Payor because that is not what the Payor signed. In the context of securitization, it is always something that a third party has done after the note was signed, sometimes years after the note was signed.

A Common Definition is “An allonge is generally an attachment to a legal document that can be used to insert language or signatures when the original document does not have sufficient space for the inserted material. It may be, for example, a piece of paper attached to a negotiable instrument or promissory note, on which endorsements can be written because there isn’t enough room on the instrument itself. The allonge must be firmly attached so as to become a part of the instrument.”

So the first thing to remember is that an allonge is not an assignment nor is it an indorsement (UCC spelling) or endorsement (common spelling). This distinction was relatively unimportant until claims of “securitization” were made asserting that loans were being transferred by way of an allonge. By definition that is impossible. An allonge is neither an amendment, nor an assignment nor an endorsement of a loan, note, mortgage or obligation. Lawyers who miss this point are conceding something that is basic to contract law, the UCC and property law in each state.

It is important to recognize the elements of an allonge:

  1. By definition it is on a separate piece of paper containing TERMS that could not fit on the instrument itself. Since the documents are prepared in advance of the “closing” with the borrower, I can conceive of no circumstances where the note or other instrument would be attached to an allonge when there was plenty of time to reprint the note with all the terms and conditions. The burden would then shift to the pretender lender to establish why it was necessary to put these “terms” on a separate piece of paper.
  2. The separate piece of paper must be affixed to the note in such a manner as to demonstrate that the allonge was always there and formed the basis of the agreement between all signatories intended to be bound by the instrument (note). The burden is on the pretender lender to prove that the allonge was always present — a burden that is particularly difficult without the signature or initials of the party sought to be bound by the “terms” expressed in the allonge.
  3. The attached paper must contain terms, conditions or provisions that are relevant to the duties and obligations of the parties to the original instrument — in this case the original instrument is a promissory note. The burden of proof in such cases might include foundation testimony from a live witness who can testify that the signor on the note knew the allonge existed and agreed to the terms.
  4. ERROR: An allonge is not just any piece of paper attached to the original instrument. If it is being offered as an allonge but it is actually meant to be used as an assignment or indorsement, then additional questions of fact arise, including but not limited to consideration. In the opinion of this writer, the reason transfers are often “documented” with instruments called an “allonge” is that by its appearance it gives the impression that (1) it was there since inception of the instrument and (2) that the borrower agreed to it. An additional reason is that the issue consideration for the transfer is avoided completely if the “allonge” is accepted as a document of transfer.
  5. As a practice pointer, if the document contains terms and conditions of the loan or repayment, then it is being offered as an allonge. But it is not a valid allonge unless the signor of the original instrument (the note) agreed to the contents expressed on the allonge, since the proponent of this evidence wishes the court to consider the allonge part of the note itself.
  6. If the instrument contains language of transfer then it is not an allonge in that it fails to meet the elements required for proffering evidence of the instrument as an allonge.

ASSIGNMENT: All contracts require an offer, acceptance and consideration to be enforced. An assignment is a contract. In the context of mortgage loans and litigation, an assignment is a document that recites the terms of a transaction in which the loan, note, obligation, mortgage or deed of trust is transferred and accepted by the assignee in exchange for consideration. Within the context of loans that are subject to securitization claims or claims of assignment the documents proffered by the pretender lender are missing two out of three components: consideration and acceptance. The assignment in this context is an offer that cannot and in fact must not be accepted without violating the authority of the manager or “trustee” of the SPV (REMIC) pool.

Like all contracts it must be supported by consideration. An assignment without consideration is probably void, almost certainly voidable and at the very least requires the proponent of this instrument as evidence to be admitted into the record to meet the burden of proof as to foundation.

The typical assignment offered in foreclosure litigation states that “for value received” the assignor, being the owner of the note described, hereby assigns, transfers and conveys all right, title and interest to the assignee. The problem is obvious — there was no value received if the loan was not funded by the assignee or was being purchased by the assignee at the time of the alleged transfer. A demand for records of the assignor and assignee would show how the parties actually treated the transaction from an accounting point of view.

In the same way as we look at the bookkeeping records of the “payee” on the original note to determine if the payee was in fact the “lender” as declared in the note and mortgage, we look to the books and records of the assignor and assignee to determine the treatment of the transaction on their own books and records.

The highest probability is that there will be no entry on either the balance sheet categories or the income statement categories because the parties were already paid a fee at the inception of the “loan” which was not disclosed to the borrower in violation of TILA. At most there might be the recording of an additional fee for “processing” the “assignment”. At no time will the assignor nor the assignee show the transaction as a loan receivable, the absence of which is powerful evidence that the assignor did not own the loan and therefore conveyed nothing, and that the assignee paid nothing in the assignment “transaction” because there was no transaction.

Any accountant (CPA) should be able to render a report on this limited aspect. Such an accountant could recite the same statements contained herein as the reason why you are in need of the discovery and what it will show. Such a statement should not say that the evidence will prove anything, but rather than this information will lead to the discovery of admissible evidence as to whether the party whose records are being produced was acting in the capacity of servicer, nominee, lender, real party in interest, assignee or assignor.

The foundation for the assignment instrument must be by way of testimony (I doubt that “business records” could suffice) explaining the transaction and validating the assignment and the facts showing consideration, offer and acceptance. Acceptance is difficult in the context of securitization because the assignment is usually prepared (a) long after the close out date in the pooling and servicing agreement and (b) after the assignor or its agents have declared the loan to be in default. Both points violate virtually all pooling and servicing agreements that require performing loans to be pooled, ownership of the loan to be established by the assignor, the assignment executed in recordable form and many PSA’s require actual recording — a point missed by most analysts.

If we assume for the moment that the origination of the loan met the requirements for perfecting a mortgage lien on the subject property, the party managing the “pool” (REMIC, Trust etc.) would be committing an ultra vires act on its face if they accepted the loan, debt, obligation, note, mortgage or deed of trust into the pool years after the cut-off date and after the loan was declared in default. Acceptance of the assignment is a key component here that is missed by most judges and lawyers. The assumption is that if the assignment was offered, why wouldn’t the loan be accepted. And the answer is that by accepting the loan the manager would be committing the pool to an immediate loss of principal and income or even the opportunity for income.

Thus we are left with a Hobson’s choice: either the origination documents were void or the assignments of the origination documents were void. If the origination documents were void for lack of consideration and false declarations of facts, there could not be any conditions under which the elements of a perfected mortgage lien would be present. If the origination was valid, but the assignments were void, then the record owner of the loan is party who is admitted to have been paid in full, thus releasing the property from the encumbrance of the mortgage lien. Note that releasing the original lien neither releases any obligation to whoever paid it off nor does it bar a judgment lien against the homeowner — but that must be foreclosed by judicial means (non-judicial process does not apply to judgment liens under any state law I have reviewed).

INDORSEMENTS OR ENDORSEMENTS: The spelling varies depending upon the source. The common law spelling and the one often used in the UCC begins with the letter “I”. They both mean the same thing and are used interchangeably.

An indorsement transfers rights represented by the instruments to another individual other than the payee or holder. Indorsements can be open, qualified, conditional, bearer, with recourse, without recourse, requiring a subsequent indorsement, as a bailment (collection), or transferring all right title and interest. The types of indorsements vary as much as human imagination which is why an indorsement, alone, it frequently insufficient to establish the rights of the parties without another evidence, such as a contract of assignment.

The typical definition starts with an overall concept: “An indorsement on a negotiable instrument, such as a check or a promissory note, has the effect of transferring all the rights represented by the instrument to another individual. The ordinary manner in which an individual endorses a check is by placing his or her signature on the back of it, but it is valid even if the signature is placed somewhere else, such as on a separate paper, known as an allonge, which provides a space for a signature.” Another definition often appearing in cases and treatises is “ the act of the owner or payee signing his/her name to the back of a check, bill of exchange, or other negotiable instrument so as to make it payable to another or cashable by any person. An endorsement may be made after a specific direction (“pay to Dolly Madison” or “for deposit only”), called a qualified endorsement, or with no qualifying language, thereby making it payable to the holder, called a blank endorsement. There are also other forms of endorsement which may give credit or restrict the use of the check.”

Entire books have been written about indorsements and they have not exhausted all the possible interpretations of the act or the words used to describe the writing dubbed an “indorsement” or the words contained within the words described as an indorsement. As a result, courts are justifiably reluctant to accept an indorsed instrument on its face with parole evidence — unless the other party makes the mistake of failing to object to the foundation, and in the case of the mortgage meltdown practices of fabrication, forgery and fraud, by failing to deny the indorsement was ever made except for the purposes of litigation and has no relation to any legitimate business transaction.

Once the indorsement is put in issue as a material fact that is disputed, then the discovery must proceed to determine when the indorsement was created, where it was done, the parties involved in its creation and the parties involved in the execution of the indorsement, as well as the circumstantial evidence causing the indorsement to be made. A blank indorsement is no substitute for an assignment nor is it evidence that any transaction took place win which consideration (money) exchanged hands. Further blank indorsements might be yet another violation of the PSA, in which the indorsement must be with recourse and be unqualified naming the assignee.

A “trustee” of an alleged SPV (REMIC) who accepts such a document would no doubt be acting ultra vires (acting outside of the authority vested in the person purported to have acted) and it is doubtful that any evidence exists where the trustee was informed that the proposed indorsement or assignment involved a loan and a pool which was five years past the cutoff, already declared in default and which failed to meet the formal terms of assignment set forth in the PSA. A deposition upon written questions or oral deposition might clear the matter up by directing the right questions to the right person designated to be the person who represents the entity that claims to manage the SPV (REMIC) pool. In order to accomplish that, prior questions must be asked and answered as to the identity of such individuals and entities “with sufficient specificity such that they can be identified in subsequent demands for discovery or the issuance of a subpoena.”

Throughout this process, the defender in foreclosure must be ever vigilant in maintaining control of the narrative lest the other side wrest control and redirect the Judge to the allegation (without any evidence in the record) that the debt exists (or worse, has been admitted), the default occurred (or worse, has been admitted) and that the pretender is the lender (or worse, has been admitted as such).

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