UPDATE: This case was subsequently appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court which vacated the decision discussed below, and remanded the case to the Court of Appeals. The subsequent opinion holds that a trust cannot hold title to real estate as a joint tenant with rights of survivorship. Click here to read that published opinion. Click here to read my most on that subsequently released opinion.
In a recently released unpublished opinion, a panel of the Michigan Court of Appeals has held that a trust can own real property as a joint tenant with rights of survivorship. Only two members of the panel signed on to the decision, a third dissented.
In the case of Schaaf v Forbes (click on the name to read the case), a deed was created whereby the trustee of a trust was made a joint tenant with other individuals, with rights of survivorship. The trial court concluded that the deed was invalid because a trust cannot be made a party to such a deed, for the reason that a trust has no measuring life.
On appeal, the COA goes to great lengths to find statutory authority to reverse the trial court’s finding and to conclude that a trust can in fact be a joint tenant on such a deed. They do not explain how such a deed would operate.
The dissenting judge (very politely) points out that the outcome offered by the majority of the panel is not only a stretch with respect to the statutes they rely upon, but provides a ridiculous outcome. Click here to read the dissent.