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Partition action only available for joint tenants in common, not for joint tenants with right of survivorship

The court held that the trial court erred to the extent that it provided for the sale of the fee simple interest of the property, and specifically to the extent that it provided for the sale of the parties' dual contingent remainder interests. However, it did not err in granting the plaintiffs summary disposition on the issue of the parties' life estate interests in the real property and in ordering the sale of an estate extending until the death of the third of the four joint tenants. Plaintiffs sued requesting that the trial court partition real property that the parties own as joint tenants with the right of survivorship and not as tenants in common. The trial court entered a stipulated order denying defendant's motion for summary disposition, granting plaintiffs' request for summary disposition, finding that the real property could not be physically divided, granting plaintiffs' request that the property be sold, and ruling that the property interest to be sold was "an estate the duration of which extends until the death of the third of the four parties to die, after which time the then surviving party shall become the fee simple owner of the Property." It later entered an order providing that the earlier order remained in effect except as modified, and ordered that "the property interest to be sold 'is the fee simple interest,' including the parties' life estates and dual contingent remainder interests." It cited to MCL 600.3340 as authority for the order, and indicated that it was "a final order which resolves all claims in this matter." On appeal, the court agreed with defendant that the trial court erred in ordering the sale of the fee simple interest in real property owned as joint tenants with the right of survivorship and not as tenants in common because it improperly interfered with her contingent remainder interest. "[T]he Michigan Supreme Court considered MCL 600.3304 in holding that only a life estate interest in property held as a joint tenancy with the right of survivorship can be partitioned." Further, MCL 600.3340 "dictates that a court ordering a forced sale under a judgment of partition must ascertain any parties with dower, vested, or contingent interests in the lands and make sure their interests are protected; it does not provide that a trial court may order the forced sale of indestructible contingent remainders." As such, "the trial court erred in ordering the sale of the fee simple interest" in the property as its order "would impermissibly destroy defendant's contingent remainder interest in the real property." However, it did not err in granting plaintiffs summary disposition on the issue of the parties' life estate interests. Defendant "stipulated and agreed to (and, in fact, prepared) the June 17, 2013 order for the sale of the life estates of the parties in the" property, and was bound by the stipulation. Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.

Antenuptial agreement held to be valid and enforceable

The court held that the parties' antenuptial agreement was valid and enforceable, concluding that to invalidate it on the basis of one party's fault would contravene the agreement's clear and unambiguous language, and that as a matter of law, the...

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