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Can we change deed type from Joint Tennant w/ rights of surviorship


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#1 pgerm1405

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 12:52 PM

Husband and SIL own a property in Michigan together. It is listed on the deed as JTWROS, hubby thought that meant if he died i would automatically receive his half of the condo & SIL says her half is safe beacuse she has all her half in a trust.
Upon checking into what a JTWROS means it appears that if my husband dies before SIL my SIL would receive husband's half not me. Can we change the deed to something else, at least something that my husband would be able to leave to me and/or our children instead of my SIL becoming sole owner? She is in another state across country, thank God, and I know she for sure wouldn't want my husband to end up with her half either.
Thanks!!

#2 pg1067

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 01:32 PM

It is listed on the deed as JTWROS, hubby thought that meant if he died i would automatically receive his half of the condo & SIL says her half is safe beacuse she has all her half in a trust.


Says her half is safe from what?


Upon checking into what a JTWROS means it appears that if my husband dies before SIL my SIL would receive husband's half not me.


Correct. When A and B jointly own property as joint tenants with the right of survivorship and A dies, A's interest in the property automatically transfers to B. By contrast, if A and B jointly own property as tenants in common and A dies, A's interest in the property passes according to the terms of A's will or the applicable state intestate law.


Can we change the deed to something else, at least something that my husband would be able to leave to me and/or our children instead of my SIL becoming sole owner?


I don't know precisely how it works in Michigan, but it is generally possible for any joint owner to destroy a joint tenancy with or without the cooperation of the other joint tenant(s). A simple consultation with a local real estate attorney should tell your husband what he needs to do to accomplish this.


She is in another state across country, thank God, and I know she for sure wouldn't want my husband to end up with her half either.


Then obtaining her cooperation shouldn't be a problem.

#3 FindLaw_Amir

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 02:24 PM

I agree with the previous poster, you may want to consult with a local Michigan Real Estate Lawyer to advise you on how to address this matter. Many lawyers do offer a free consultation.
FindLaw's Legal Heads-Up! newsletter can provide you with the legal resources you need to make informed decisions when law touches aspects of your everyday life.

#4 Fallen

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 03:35 PM

"... SIL says her half is safe beacuse she has all her half in a trust."

Unless the sister-in-law has a pour-over will saying her interest in this condo goes to X trust (or creating X trust in her will), can't know what she means. Anyway, what happens to her interest isn't relevant to you.

Shouldn't have a problem if things are as you say getting the sister to sign off on a deed that transfers their ownership interest to them as tenants in common. (Someone's free to point out to the sister that unless she creates a trust or has a pour-over will saying X or otherwise creating a trust, that her interest won't be in any trust. I too wonder what she thinks "safe" means, by the way.)

There's no "we" here in a legal sense (it's your husband's issue to fix), but yes, the ownership type can be changed.

I'll echo PG's advisory "warning" with a twist: (Many) legal issues are complicated. Explanations and comments here might not fully identify or explain the ramifications of your particular problem. I do not give legal advice as such (and such is impermissible here at any rate). Comments are based on personal knowledge and experience and legal info gleaned over a quarter century, and every state has differing laws on and avenues to address most topics.  If you need legal advice, you need to consult (and pay) a professional so that you may have someone to hold accountable.  Acting on personal and informational advice from a stranger on the internet is a bad idea -- at least not without your own thorough due dilience/research and confirmation as it applies to your situation.  :)


#5 pgerm1405

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 08:42 AM

SIL says that she has her interest in the condo listed in her trust and that it will be passed on to her children. From what I have been reading it does seem debatable as to whether her trust would even allow for the passing of her interest to whomever she names, maybe different states different issues. (?) I do understand: "There's no "we" here in a legal sense (it's your husband's issue to fix)," but he's horrified that he didn't understand what was done, becasue there is no trusting certain people to do the right thing.
We will be consulting our attorney tomorrow. I'll keep you all posted as to what is advised and what we do so that others may learn.
Thanks again!!

#6 Fallen

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 10:01 AM

"SIL says that she has her interest in the condo listed in her trust and that it will be passed on to her children."

Unless/until the actual deed says her interest is owned by "[her name perhaps], Trustee of the [her name perhaps] Trust," she's wrong.

"From what I have been reading it does seem debatable as to whether her trust would even allow for the passing of her interest to whomever she names, maybe different states different issues."

Doesn't matter what state she lives in; she's free to transfer her interest into a trust and leave it to whomever she pleases (assuming she outlives her brother).

".. he's horrified that he didn't understand what was done, becasue there is no trusting certain people to do the right thing."

Have zippy idea where he's developed the notion that someone purposely did the "wrong thing" (and let's not forget he's the one who presumably went along with it).

I'll echo PG's advisory "warning" with a twist: (Many) legal issues are complicated. Explanations and comments here might not fully identify or explain the ramifications of your particular problem. I do not give legal advice as such (and such is impermissible here at any rate). Comments are based on personal knowledge and experience and legal info gleaned over a quarter century, and every state has differing laws on and avenues to address most topics.  If you need legal advice, you need to consult (and pay) a professional so that you may have someone to hold accountable.  Acting on personal and informational advice from a stranger on the internet is a bad idea -- at least not without your own thorough due dilience/research and confirmation as it applies to your situation.  :)


#7 pgerm1405

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 10:35 AM

For the record hubby is horrified that he didnt understand the differences in deeds and made assumptions about what "right of surviorship" meant thus leaving me in a vulernable position, not saying SIL did it on purpose, probably doesn't even understand the differences herself. But now that money is very tight for her, leaving things as they are and trusting her to split the condo 50/50 is not an option. It is very likley that SIL will out live hubby as he is quite sick right now with a disease that has an unpredictable time span.

#8 harrylime

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 10:44 AM

If SIL transferred her interest to a trust, that may have severed the the right of survivorship right then and converted the ownership into a tenancy in common. The process for severing joint tenancy varies by state. Try to get a copy of the latest deed to take with you for that consult with the Michigan real estate attorney.

#9 pg1067

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 12:43 PM

SIL says that she has her interest in the condo listed in her trust and that it will be passed on to her children. From what I have been reading it does seem debatable as to whether her trust would even allow for the passing of her interest to whomever she names, maybe different states different issues.


If John and Jane Doe (brother and sister) own a piece of real property as joint tenants and Jane then transfers her interest to "Jane Doe, as Trustee of the Jane Doe Revocable Trust, dated January 1, 2012," then the issue would be whether the transfer had the effect of destroying the joint tenancy and converted it into a tenancy in common. That seems unlikely to me, but I can't say either way under MI law.

#10 Tax_Counsel

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 11:00 PM

If John and Jane Doe (brother and sister) own a piece of real property as joint tenants and Jane then transfers her interest to "Jane Doe, as Trustee of the Jane Doe Revocable Trust, dated January 1, 2012," then the issue would be whether the transfer had the effect of destroying the joint tenancy and converted it into a tenancy in common. That seems unlikely to me, but I can't say either way under MI law.


It might indeed break the joint tenancy. Under the common law, all of the four unities needed for the joint tenancy would no longer exist, with the result that the ownership becomes tenants in common. Whether that would be the case in Michigan, however, I don’t know. But in any event, this should be able to be fixed pretty easily and inexpensively.




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