N. Aaron Johnson, of ([Downey Brand LLP), has made available for
download his article, “Unilateral Severance of Joint Tenancy Must Be Unequivocal and Irrevocable,” published in JDSUPRA. The article begins as follows:
Can a California will sever a joint tenancy such that the decedent’s interest in real property passes per will’s terms instead of vesting in the surviving joint tenant(s)? Additionally, when a general partnership dissolves after the death of a partner’s spouse, does the deceased spouse’s estate have a community property interest in the distributed partnership assets?
The California Court of Appeal addressed these questions in Pearce v. Briggs (2021) 68 Cal.App.5th 466, a case arising from a blended family’s battle over Bakersfield real estate. The opinion casts doubt on when, if ever, a will may sever a joint tenancy. The opinion also shows how beneficiaries of a deceased spouse may have difficulty enforcing a community property interest in a general partnership operated by the surviving spouse.
Posted by Bennett Mansour, Associate Editor, Wealth Strategies Journal