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Hoover v. Smith

Supreme Court of Virginia
444 S.E.2d 546 (1994)


In 1928, one acre of land was conveyed to Add Shoemaker and Bessie Shoemaker. The deed stated the land was conveyed to Add and Bessie “as joint tenants, and not as tenants in common.” Add died in 1952, survived by Bessie and several children. After Add’s death, Bessie conveyed a half-acre portion of the property to their son Wilmer Shoemaker. Bessie died in 1984. Wilmer died in 1988. In his will, Wilmer devised the half-acre portion of property to Shelby Moubray. Moubray then conveyed the property to David Smith and Vivian Smith. In 1992, several of Add and Bessie’s children (the Hoovers) (plaintiffs), filed suit against the Smiths and several other of Add and Bessie’s children (defendants). The Hoovers alleged that under Virginia statute, Add and Bessie were tenants in common and each had obtained a one-half interest in the real estate. The Hoovers argued this meant that Add’s one-half interest should have passed to his surviving children at his death. The Hoovers asked for sale of the property and division of the proceeds in accordance with that finding. The defendants responded that the deed established joint tenancy with the right of survivorship. The defendants also argued this meant Add’s one-half interest passed to Bessie at his death. Thus, everything should remain as it was. The trial court found for the defendants and dismissed the case. The plaintiffs appealed.

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