SW Legal studies in Business

Why You Hire a Lawyer to Transfer Property Properly
Description

Wyoming high court interpreted two deeds executed by parents in favor of their children. It was likely that one kind of tenancy was intended, but one deed was not clear and the default rule of law would automatically apply a presumption of joint tenancy.

Topic Real and Personal Property
Key Words

Tenants in Common; Joint Tenants; Deed; Quiet Title

C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts

Mike and Dorothy Thomas (grantors) transferred real estate to John Thomas and Margaret Dickson, their only children “as tenants by the entireties with right of survivorship, and not as tenants in common,” by a deed filed with the county clerk. They also transferred a second piece of property to John and Margaret by a warranty deed filed with the county clerk. Years later, a dispute arose among John’s heirs and Margaret as to the form of ownership of the two properties. John’s heirs claimed both properties were owned as tenants in common; Margaret claimed they were owned as joint tenants. The district court held that the properties were owned as tenants in common. Margaret appealed.

Decision

Affirmed in part, reversed in part. The grantors, acting without legal advice, attempted to create a tenancy by the entireties in John and Margaret, but the transfer stated “with right of survivorship, and not as tenants in common.” Grantors clearly did not want them to be tenants in common, so the intent was clear and created a joint tenancy in the first property, which they referred to as tenants by the entireties. The second property made no such declaration as it simply transferred ownership to John and Margaret, which created a tenancy in common.

Citation

Estate of Thomas, 199 P.3d 1090 (Sup. Ct., Wyo., 2009)

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