Deed Case Feels Like Law School Question

By Doug Chalgian on October 18, 2022

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This is one of those law school question cases, mostly real property law but with a probate twist.

Here we go:

The Deeds

A and B own property as tenants in common.

Deed 1:  From A and B to A, B and C as joint tenants (not expressly with rights of survivorship)

Deed 2: From A to B and C

Deed 3: From C to B reserving a life estate in C.

The Probate Piece

At all relevant times, C is a legally incapacitated individual subject to court appointed guardianship and conservatorship.  Probate court approval was not sought for any of the deeds at issue (as would be required any time a conservator conveys an interest in real property belonging to the ward).

The Case

After C dies, litigation arises over the validity of the deeds and the interest held by C at his death.

Trial judge rules that Deeds 2 and 3 are void because they both altered the interests of C, a protected person, without court approval.  Accordingly, the property reverts to the ownership as expressed in Deed 1.

The COA reverses in part, finding that while Deed 3 was void for lack of probate court approval, Deed 2 is valid because it did not convey any of C’s rights in the property and therefore did not run afoul of any EPIC restrictions.

Extra Credit

In light of the COA decision, what is the nature of parties’ respective interests immediately before C’s death?

Answer: Two-thirds owned by B and C as joint tenants, one third owned by B and C as tenants in common.

Read It Yourself

If you don’t agree or just want to better understand, the case is called: Estate of Richard Maine v Key.  Click on the name to read the case.  The case is unpublished.



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mm By: Doug Chalgian
Doug Chalgian

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