Downing v. Downing
Court of Appeals of Maryland
606 A.2d 208 (Md. 1992)
Helen Downing was the sole owner of her family farm. She had two children, John Downing (defendant) and Bonnie Downing (plaintiff). In 1972, Helen conveyed the farm in fee simple to a straw man, Stanford Hoff. Hoff immediately conveyed the farm in fee simple to Helen and her son John, with the deed stating that they were “joint tenants.” Prior to 1972, Helen allowed John Myers to farm crops on the land in exchange for payments to her. This arrangement continued with John Downing’s consent after 1972. In 1985, Helen and John executed a mortgage on the farm. Helen died in 1987, making no mention of the farm in her will. The residue of her estate was to be divided evenly between her two children, John and Bonnie. In 1988, as representative of Helen’s estate, Bonnie filed a complaint to have the 1972 deed interpreted as creating a tenancy in common. As a tenancy in common, at Helen’s death an undivided half of the farm would have passed to John and half to Helen’s estate. As a joint tenancy, John would have become the sole owner at the moment of Helen’s death. The magistrate concluded that there was no joint tenancy because the deed did not mention a right of survivorship, a requirement for a joint tenancy. The magistrate also held that the farming arrangement and the mortgage would have destroyed a joint tenancy. John appealed to the circuit court, which held that although a joint tenancy had been created, it was severed into a tenancy in common when the property was mortgaged. The Maryland Court of Appeals then granted certiorari.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Chasanow, J.)
What to do next…
Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.
You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 707,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Berkeley, and Northwestern—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students.Unlock this case briefRead our student testimonials
Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.
Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students.Learn about our approachRead more about Quimbee
Here's why 707,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:
- Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 44,500 briefs, keyed to 983 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
- The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
- Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
- Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.