The trial court agreed with the widow and held title vested in her on death because the deed created a joint tenancy with a right of survivorship, and under such an instrument the title of the dying joint tenant passes outside of the estate to the other joint tenant -- similar to a payable on death account. The Court of Appeals agreed the widow owned the property; however, it held the deed created a joint life estate, and that the widow received a remainder interest in the property on the death of her joint tenant in the life estate.
In reaching its conclusion that the trial court erred in its reasoning, but not in the ultimate effect of the ruling, the Court of Appeals examined the deed under the principles for deed construction. These rules of construction are basically the same rules that apply to construction of contracts.
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