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REAL ESTATE 89: RM had not included any language in the deed providing that the property was a joint tenancy with full rights of survivorship, the property instead became a tenancy in common.

This case involves a probate dispute regarding ownership interest in real property following FK’s death. The parties do not dispute the relevant facts.

FK and his wife sold the property at issue to their daughter, RM, for $50,000, and the sale was memorialized in a deed recorded in 2000. RM thereafter financed the construction of a two-unit condominium on the land, and FK moved in to one unit so RM could take care of him because of his age and infirmities.

According to RM, in 2008, she and FK were each being charged a garbage collection fee. However, she became aware that only one collection fee would have to be paid if they were both listed on the deed, which would be helpful since FK was on a limited income. As a result, RM executed a quitclaim deed conveying her interest in the subject property to herself and FK for $1.00.

Deed

RM drafted the deed without seeking counsel and mistakenly believed that, if either she or FK died, the property would fully pass to the surviving tenant. FK’s will provided that if his wife predeceased him—which she did—the personal representative of his estate should sell any residual property that he owned and divide the cash proceeds equally among his surviving children.

After FK’s death in 2019, RM attempted to refinance the property, but she discovered from the title company that she only held one-half interest in the property, with FK’s estate owning the other one-half share.

Because RM had not included any language in the deed providing that the property was a joint tenancy with full rights of survivorship, the property instead became a tenancy in common where each tenant owned an equal share of the property that did not pass to the other tenant upon death. RM contacted her six siblings about the mistake in the deed and stated that all siblings, but WH agreed that RM was the sole owner of the property.

Probate Proceedings

RM petitioned the court to allow her, as personal representative, to transfer the estate’s one-half property share to herself based on error in preparing the deed. WH opposed the petition, arguing that the deed created a tenancy in common, that FK’s interest in the property passed to his estate upon his death, and that pursuant to FK’s will, she was entitled to her equal share of the proceeds from the property as a beneficiary of FK’s estate. The other five siblings consented to RM’s petition for transfer of the property and submitted affidavits in support of the petition.

Court Order

After hearing arguments, and after the parties agreed that the facts were not in dispute, the probate court ordered reformation of the deed, concluding that there was no evidence that the parties intended for FK to have any real interest in the property. The court’s order provided that RM, in her role as personal representative, could correct the 2008 quitclaim deed to add the language “with Full Rights of Survivorship” and could record a new deed transferring any property interest that FK may have had to herself.

Help with Real Estate Transactions

Our attorneys represent clients in all areas of real estate. At Aldrich Legal Services, we draft of real estate deeds, including quit claim deeds. We provide guidance to make sure proper language is included. When you have questions or need assistance with a real estate transaction in Michigan, contact us to schedule a consultation.

FAMILY LAW 83: A trial court can terminate a parent’s rights and permit a stepparent to adopt a child.

A trial court has discretion to terminate a parent’s rights and permit a stepparent to adopt a child when the conditions of MCL 710.51(6) are met. MCL 710.51(6)(b) requires the petitioner to establish that the other parent had the ability to visit, contact, or communicate with the children, and substantially failed or neglected to do so for a period of two years.

PROBATE 53: The trust agreement included an Incontestability Provision.

A settlor’s intent is to be carried out as nearly as possible. Generally, in terrorem clauses are valid and enforceable. However, a provision in a trust that purports to penalize an interested person for contesting the trust or instituting another proceeding relating to the trust shall not be given effect if probable cause exists for instituting a proceeding contesting the trust or another proceeding relating to the trust.

FAMILY LAW 82: Court stated it would terminate the personal protection order (PPO) after the parties present documentation of the initiation of the divorce proceedings.

However, the trial court concluded that these matters should, in fact, be in the province and the jurisdiction of the Family Division and in that respect, having issued a personal protection order, the Court stated it would terminate the personal protection order after the parties present documentation of the initiation of the divorce proceedings.

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