Can I Remove or Expunge a Lis Pendens?

A lis pendens is a legal document that provides notice to the public that a lawsuit involving the ownership of real property is pending. This notice effectively prevents the real estate from being transferred, as the lis pendens serves as a warning to potential buyers. However, if the lis pendens was improperly filed, the property owner may be able to remove or expunge it from the property’s record. 

What does expunging, removing, or cancelling a lis pendens mean?

Under California law, a lis pendens can be removed through a process known as “expungement.” When the owner of real property believes a lis pendens has been improperly filed, they can file a motion to expunge the notice of pendency of action. If the motion is successful, the lis pendens will be removed and released. Additionally, the judge may award legal fees and court costs to the successful property owner in some situations.

Expungements are primarily granted for one of two reasons. First, a lis pendens can be expunged if the judge determines that the legal action will not have an effect on the ownership of the property. For example, a personal injury lawsuit against the property owner would not be a proper cause of action for a lis pendens. Even if the plaintiff wins, the remedy will be money damages, which will not impact title or possession. 

Another basis for expungement is that, although the lawsuit involves ownership of the property, insufficient evidence exists to prove that the party that filed the lis pendens has a reasonable chance of winning. If the judge determines there is not enough proof that the lawsuit will be successful, the lis pendens will be expunged.

What does lis pendens do?

A lis pendens, also known as a notice of pendency of action, is a written document that gives notice of a pending lawsuit that may impact the title to or possession of real estate. The party bringing the lawsuit must record the lis pendens in the county recorder’s office where the property is located. In order to be legally valid, the notice must include the names of all parties involved in the case and a description of the property in question. 

How long is a lis pendens valid?

There is no specific time frame for how long a lis pendens is valid. Rather, a lis pendens is valid until it is expunged or the underlying case is resolved. If not expunged, a lis pendens is often removed as part of a settlement agreement reached between the parties. However, if the case does not settle, the lis pendens will remain in effect until the legal action, including appeals, is completed. 

When should I contact a probate litigation attorney?

Lis pendens can be employed in a variety of legal contexts. When it comes to probate litigation, it is most commonly used when a pending will or trust contest calls into question the ownership of real property. For example, if a will that leaves the decedent’s home to one party is being challenged, a lis pendens may be appropriate. 

In these situations, you should contact a probate litigation attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options. You should not record a lis pendens without first consulting with an experienced lawyer, as strict requirements must be met to avoid expungement.

Have questions? We’re happy to discuss.
Call (424) 320-9444 or email [email protected]

Read More

What Does a Probate Lawyer Do?
How Much Does a Probate Lawyer Cost?
Who Inherits Property if There Is No Will?

About RMO, LLP

RMO LLP provides personal and efficient inheritance dispute services to individual and institutional clients. The firm’s attorneys focus on probate litigation involving contested trust, estate, probate, and conservatorship matters. Serving California and Texas, with offices in Los Angeles, Pasadena, Orange County, San Diego, Fresno, the Bay Area, Dallas, and Houston. For more information, please visit

Share on:

Most Popular

Search Topics

Read More

About the Author

Scott Rahn, Founding Partner

Scott Rahn resolves contests, disputes and litigation related to trusts, estates and conservatorships, creating a welcome peace of mind for clients. He represents heirs, beneficiaries, trustees and executors. He utilizes his experience to develop and implement strategies that swiftly and efficiently address the financial issues, fiduciary duties and emotional complexities underlying trust contests, estates conflicts and probate litigation.

Related Articles