Estates & future interests

Will leaving land to surviving heirs of the decedent's child creates a life estate in the child with remainder in the heirs

The Georgia Supreme Court has interpreted a will leaving land to the "surviving heir or heirs" of the decedent's child as creating a life estate in the child with a contingent remainder in the child's heirs. Anderson v. Anderson, 791 S.E. 2d 40 (Ga. 2016) Read more about Will leaving land to surviving heirs of the decedent's child creates a life estate in the child with remainder in the heirs

Retroactive restraints on leasing in homeowners associations

The courts continue to divide over the question of whether it is fair to allow homeowners associations to impose retroactive restraints on leasing on existing owners who purchased with no notice of the restriction. While most states allow this, a few do not, and the Restatement (Third) of Property (Servitudes) §6.10(2), §6.10 cmt. g, takes the position that such major changes in property rights can only be accomplished prospectively unless there is a unanimous vote to alter those rights.

The Idaho Supreme Court recently adopted what appears to be the majority...

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Distinguishing between a right of first refusal and a restraint on alienation

The Massachusetts Land Court decided an interesting case interpreting a conveyance that reads like a right of first refusal but can be interpreted as a broader restraint on alienation giving discretion to a nonprofit entity to refuse absolutely to any transfer of the land. Gottlieb v. Girl Scouts of E. Mass., 2016 WL 3523859 (Mass. Land Ct. 2016). The conveyance stated that "...

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Fee simple absolute found despite language of "in trust" and "for the uses, purposes" of the YWCA

In a standard application of traditional estates doctrine, the Massachusetts Appeals Court has found a fee simple absolute despite language in the grant to the YWCA stating that the property was given "in trust, nevertheless, for the uses, purposes and trusts aforesaid." Young Women's Christian Ass'n, Inc. of Boston, Inc. v. Young Women's Christian Ass'n of Philadelphia, Inc., 90 Mass. App. Ct. 1119, 2016 WL 7162737 (Table) (Mass. 2016).

Traditionally any language in a conveyance of a fee...

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Mortgage of joint tenancy interest does not encumber interests of joint tenants who do not join the deal

In Bac Home Loans Servicing, L.P. v. Savankham, 2016 Mass. LCR LEXIS 86 (Mass. Land Ct. 2016), a mother gave a bank a mortgage on her joint tenancy interest in property she shared with her two children. The children did not know about or participate in the transaction. Apparently, the bank thought it was getting a mortgage on the whole property rather than just the joint tenancy interest of one joint tenant and...

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Banks that foreclose without legal authority to do so commit the tort of wrongful foreclosure

The California Supreme Court held in Yvanova v.  New Century Mortgage Corp.,, 365 P.3d 845 (Cal. 2016), that a borrower has standing to prove that a nonjudicial foreclosure was wrongful because an assignment by which the foreclosing entity purportedly took a beneficial interest was void, thereby depriving the foreclosing party of any authority to foreclose through a trustee's sale. 

In a follow up case,...

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Right of entry held to be compensable under the takings clause

The Texas Supreme Court held that a transfer of land to a city with an option to repurchase if the property were ever used for non-park purposes constituted a fee simple subject to condition subsequent and that the right of entry was a property right for purposes of the takings clause and compensable when then city failed to honor the condition. El Dorado Land Co., L.P. v. City of McKinney, 395 S.W.3d 798 (Tex. 2013). The deed provided that the conveyance was "subject to the requirement and restriction...

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Ambiguous "survivor" reference creates a tenancy in common rather than a joint tenancy

A deed granting an interest to two siblings (Roger & Dana Waid) "or the survivor" was interpreted as created a tenancy in common rather than a joint tenancy. Young v. Waid, 2012 WL 2947590, (W.Va. 2012). Following the death of Roger, Dana would have had a 100 % interest in the property if they held as joint tenants (because of her right of survivorship) but only a 50 % interest (with 50% held by Roger's heir or devisees) if they held as tenants in common. Applying an...

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