Survivorship Deed – Tenants Rights

By HSK, June 6, 2014

A decision was recently released by the Sixth District Court of Appeals regarding a survivorship deed and whether a conveyance by both of the survivorship tenants to a third party of less than the entire acreage in the jointly held property terminated their survivorship interest in the remaining acreage.  The Court of Appeals held that such a transfer does not terminate the survivorship status of the remaining acreage.  After the cotenants made the first transfer together, 25 acres of property continued to be held as joint with right of survivorship. Later, one of the joint owners sold only her share to a developer.  The developer thought he owned her one-half interest. However, when that joint tenant died the other joint tenant recorded paperwork at the recorder’s office to cause the “transferred” jointly held interest to be registered in her name alone.  The developer was in danger of of being frozen out so the developer claimed that when the two joint tenants conveyed part of their property, that their joint tenancy over all of the property was destroyed.  The Court of Appeals said no.  The same result would have occurred had the probate court been asked to rule on the issue.  If A and B own 50 acres joint with right of survivorship, and they sell 25 acres to a developer, the 25 acres becomes the property of the developer but the other 25 acres remains as joint with right of survivorship between A and B.  If A or B then tries to sell his or her one-half interest in the remaining 25 acres, he or she must get the agreement of the co-tenant holding right of survivorship.  In this case, the developer paid for property for which it will never hold valid title.  This is why title insurance policies are issued.

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