GPNA Tip of the Week: Land Ownership

Gunderson, Palmer, Nelson & Ashmore, LLP attorney Stacy Hegge writes a brief summary of the latest South Dakota Supreme Court case in Moeckly v. Hanson SD 45. In that case, the Supreme Court upheld the circuit court’s determination that there was no joint tenancy in real property owned by a husband and wife, and so upon the wife’s death, the individuals identified in the wife’s will were entitled to the wife’s interest in the property.  

If you and another individual(s) are co-owners of real property, the language in the deed is crucial in determining what will happen to that property upon the death of one of the owners.  If you own the land as joint tenants, generally a deceased joint tenant’s interest in the land will pass to the surviving joint tenant(s).  However, if the deed contains no language regarding joint tenancy, generally a deceased co-owner’s interest will pass to that deceased co-owner’s heirs or other individuals identified in the deceased co-owner’s will.

This GPNA tip is derived from Moeckly v. Hanson, 2020 SD 45, which was released by the South Dakota Supreme Court today. In that case, the Supreme Court upheld the circuit court’s determination that there was no joint tenancy in real property owned by a husband and wife, and so upon the wife’s death, the individuals identified in the wife’s will were entitled to the wife’s interest in the property.  Read the Supreme Court’s decision here: https://ujs.sd.gov/uploads/sc/opinions/29100e7cccec.pdf

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