Search This Blog

A Blog about Real Estate, How it Can Be Damaged, and Disputes Over its Transfer

This blog is a personal blog written to discuss legal issues affecting Georgia property, and how it is damaged, transferred, and fought over. I write this partly to keep abreast of the law, and partly to offer a forum for my writing. In order to find content, I often analyze Georgia Supreme Court decisions. I try to update this blog as I can, but writing is a time consuming process.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Deed Language Determines Joint Tenancy or Life Estate

On July 11, 2011 in a case that arose as a dispute between a heir of an estate and the widow of a deceased, the Georgia Court of Appeals held that title to a property remained in the widow. Greene v. Greene, Appeal No. A11A0078 (Slip Op., Ga. App., July 11, 2011). The heir argued that the language of the deed left the property partly to the estate of the deceased, which would have meant that the heir or heirs would have received a share of the title to the land. The surviving spouse argued that the property was titled in her name exclusively following death. She contended the deed created a joint tenancy with a right of survivorship.

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment