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In re Knickerbocker

Utah Supreme Court
912 P.2d 969 (1996)


Facts

Bradford Knickerbocker (plaintiff) and Christine Knickerbocker married in 1984. In 1991, Christine filed for divorce, and the court awarded her exclusive temporary use of a house she owned in joint tenancy with Bradford. Soon after she filed for divorce, Christine learned she had a life-threatening disease. As a joint tenant, at her death, Christine’s interest would revert to Bradford. In an effort to preserve assets for her children from a prior marriage, Christine decided to establish a trust for her two children. Christine executed a deed conveying her interest in the house to herself “as a Tenant in Common.” As a tenant in common, at her death, Christine’s interest could go to anyone she designated. The deed was recorded. After establishing the trust for her two children, Christine executed a deed conveying her one-half interest in the house to the trustees. Upon Christine’s death, Bradford filed an action against James Cannon (defendant), Christine’s brother and the representative of Christine’s estate. The action challenged the severance of the joint tenancy. The trial court held that Christine’s attempt to sever the joint tenancy was legally ineffective, because she did not convey the property to a third party. Cannon appealed.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Howe, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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