This case is a dispute over the ownership of certain real property.
A and J purchased a home in Michigan (the property). In 2002, A and J established the A and J Trust, of which A and J were the sole trustees, and executed a quitclaim deed conveying the property to the trust. The parties do not dispute that the couple gave the quitclaim deed to their attorney and advised their attorney that the deed should be recorded only if A and J died simultaneously. If the couple did not die simultaneously, the attorney was not to record the deed and the surviving spouse purportedly would receive record title to the property.
A died in 2011, leaving J as the surviving spouse. Thereafter, the trust was divided into two trusts, the Family Trust and the Survivor’s Trust, each of which was to receive a one-half share of the assets of the A and J Trust. After A’s death, J conveyed the property by a recorded quitclaim deed to the J S. Trust, of which she was the trustee.
In 2018, J recorded an enhanced life estate deed transferring a remainder interest in the property to her daughter, defendant Koss. J died in 2019. The amended complaint alleges that at the time of its filing, defendant Koss resided on the property and claimed full ownership interest in the property.
Plaintiff initiated this action alleging that the Family Trust owns a one-half interest in the property and seeking to quiet title to the Family Trust’s interest in the property. Plaintiff alleged that the 2002 quitclaim deed transferred the property to the A and J Trust, which was subject to division between the Family Trust and the Survivor’s Trust upon A’s death.
Delivery of Deed
The court disagreed that A and J did not intend to convey the deed to the trust. The alleged delivery occurred in the somewhat unusual circumstance of the grantors deeding the property from themselves as individuals to themselves in their capacity as the trustees of the joint trust. Thus, A and J delivered the deed to the grantees, i.e., themselves, before they deposited the deed with their attorney. In addition, the fact that they instructed their attorney not to record the deed unless they died simultaneously did not prevent the deed from being delivered.
When the delivery of a deed is contingent upon the happening of some future event, title to the subject property will not transfer to the grantee until the event has occurred. However, in this case A and J did not place a condition upon the delivery of the deed; rather, they delivered the deed to themselves, then deposited the deed with their attorney with the instruction to record the deed only upon the happening of a future event, thereby placing a condition only upon the recording of the deed. As a result, the deed to the subject property was delivered and the interest conveyed when A and J executed the 2002 quitclaim deed to the A and J Trust and delivered it to themselves as trustees.
The trial court granted summary disposition in favor of plaintiff and denying defendants’ motion for summary disposition.
Assistance with Real Estate Litigation
Are you involved in a real estate dispute in Michigan? Are you seeking an efficient and effective resolution to a property litigation matter?
If you are facing a residential or commercial real estate, seek the advice of an experienced and skilled real estate litigation attorney at Aldrich Legal Services in Plymouth.
Contact Aldrich Legal Services