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REAL ESTATE 26: Defendant conveyed by quit claim deed for purposes of estate planning.

Defendant is plaintiff’s mother. This case arises out of their dispute involving a parcel of real property located in Michigan that contains a single-family house (the Property).

Defendant conveyed by quit claim deed the Property to herself and plaintiff as Joint Tenants with Full Rights of Survivorship and not as Tenants in Common. Defendant apparently took this action for purposes of estate planning. Defendant testified during her deposition that she added plaintiff’s name to the house because a doctor told her she was going to die soon.

In October 2014, plaintiff moved to the Property to live in the home, and she continued to live there for approximately one year. Plaintiff averred that at some point in or around the summer of 2015, defendant demanded that plaintiff give up her interest in the Property by removing her name from the deed. Plaintiff refused and, according to plaintiff, defendant retaliated.

In November 2015, the police responded to the Property after receiving a 911 call reporting that defendant claimed to have been assaulted by plaintiff.

In 2016, plaintiff filed a complaint alleging that she had been prohibited from using the Property or entering the Property to remove her belongings since November 2015.

In her claim, plaintiff alleged that she and defendant were co-owners of the Property as joint tenants with rights of survivorship and that it had become impossible for them to jointly possess and enjoy the whole of the Property. Plaintiff’s complaint requested the property should be sold, and the proceeds divided between plaintiff and defendant.

The parties each subsequently moved for summary disposition.

The trial court noted that there was no allegation that plaintiff invested any money into the Property; that defendant lived in the house for many years before adding plaintiff’s name to the title for the Property through a deed, which conveys an interest in property; and that defendant did not receive anything from plaintiff beyond what defendant already had. The trial court thus denied plaintiff’s motion for summary disposition and granted defendant’s motion for summary disposition.

The nature of the parties’ interests in the Property is defined by the deed granting the Property to both of them as joint tenants with full rights of survivorship. Deeds are contracts, and when courts can ascertain from the deed itself the intent of the grantor, the deed will be construed so as to give that intent effect.

At Aldrich Legal Services, we offer comprehensive real estate services and estate planning services to clientele throughout southeast Michigan. For most people, their home is one of their biggest financial assets. Having an experienced and knowledgeable attorney on your side to carefully draft or review your deeds and estate planning documents is critical.

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