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Sheils v. Wright
Kansas Court of Appeals
357 P.3d 294 (2015)
Richard Sheils executed and recorded a transfer-on-death (TOD) deed that would transfer his house to his brother, Charles Sheils (plaintiff), when Richard died. Later, Richard signed a deed revoking the TOD deed and transferring the house to both Richard and his nephew, Kevin Wright (defendant), as joint tenants with a right of survivorship. Under this deed, both Richard and Wright owned the house, and if one of them died, sole ownership of the house would then pass to the surviving one. Richard gave this joint-tenancy deed to his attorney to record, which counted as legal delivery. However, the attorney did not formally record the joint-tenancy deed until two weeks after Richard died. Charles filed a lawsuit claiming title to the house under the TOD deed. Under the governing statute, a TOD deed could be revoked only by recording a revocation while the owner was still alive—and Richard’s revocation paperwork was not officially recorded while he was still alive. Wright responded that Richard was legally allowed to do whatever he wanted with the house while he was alive, including transferring it to someone else. Thus, Wright claimed that the joint-tenancy deed was valid and that, as the surviving joint tenant, he owned the house. The trial court found that Richard had not validly revoked the TOD deed and that Charles owned the house. Wright appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Leben, J.)
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