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FROM ADVOCATE DAILY: Joint tenancy is a double-edged sword

Joint tenancy is a common source of legal disputes for testators and beneficiaries

Ottawa Lawyer Timothy Sullivan article

From AdvocateDaily this week, by our very own Timothy Sullivan:

Joint tenancy is a double-edged sword for testators and beneficiaries, Ottawa trusts and estates lawyer Timothy N. Sullivan tells AdvocateDaily.com.

In a recent case, the Court of Appeal for Ontario ruled that a woman’s interest in her house did pass to her daughter-in-law pursuant to a ‘joint tenancy established by gift’ after one of her children claimed the house should have been or became part of her estate that was to be shared among her children.

“The issue of joint tenancy is all too frequently the subject of a legal dispute,” says Sullivan, principal of SullivanLaw.

He says homeowners are attracted by the ease with which joint tenancy can be used to make an inter vivos gift to a family member. However, Sullivan says it’s also easy to challenge the gift once the original owner dies and the property flows automatically to the joint tenant due to the right of survivorship.

“There’s a presumption of resulting trust that has to be rebutted. The concern is: how did the newly arrived joint tenant acquire that status when it’s never been clear to the plaintiff how it came about,” Sullivan explains. “It kind of works for everybody, so in a sense, it kind of works for nobody.”

To read the rest of this article, and more by Timothy Sullivan, please visit AdvocateDaily.