Q: Is "joint tenants unto the survivor of them, their heirs and assigns" same as "joint tenancy with right of survivorship"
A: Yes. (though it should read "...joint tenants and unto the survivor of them, their heirs...")
A: While I decline to render a formal opinion on a deed without reading it and seeing how it is recorded, it is the intent of the language and not specific magic language that creates a joint tenancy with rights of survivorship (JTWROS). A grant that clearly says joint tenant and includes the word survivor seems to me to be sufficiently unambiguous. I have argued cases, particularly in DC, that a grant of “joint tenants” is not sufficiently expressive, and I think I should win that when the grantor used a Blumberg form and scratched out the word survivorship. I think in the last one in DC, the line where survivorship was supposed to be inserted was left blank, and I think I had the side arguing that the word “joint” alone does not create a JTWROS. My best recollection is that the court found that the word "joint” without language too the contrary created a JTWROS. I think the briefing didn't support that ruling, though the justice of the case did. The party didn’t appeal. I also briefed the point as one of my very first assignments in practice back around 1985, and I think Maryland law has a presumption in favor of entireties and against joint tenancy, but an unambiguous grant is whatever the grantor intended. The bottom line is that a deed is interpreted by the court in its best ability to divine the intent of the grantor. Where the words are utterly unambiguous, like JTWROS, there is nothing much to discuss (unless there is an excuse to admit parole evidence and the parole evidence indicates that the grantor’s intend was not a JTWROS). Where the words are pretty clear, such as containing words like joint and survivor, the argument for the other side is fairly weak. But, if you are anticipating a fight, a trust is a terrific way to apply a belt and suspenders solution to making sure that people like me don’t get to benefit from litigation over your inheritance.
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