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Basic Conveyance Principles

David E. Pierce, Nuts and Bolts of Mineral Title Examination

Non-testamentary conveyances of property are governed by a Statute of Frauds instead of the Statute of Wills. For example, in Kansas the Statute of Frauds requires only a writing signed by the grantor.2 The Kansas version of the Statute of Wills imposes the additional requirements that the document be “attested and subscribed in the presence of such party [testator] by two or more competent witnesses, who saw the testator subscribe or heard the testator acknowledge the will.”3

B. Joint Tenancy

The survivorship aspects of a joint tenancy are not subject to the Statute of Wills. The transfer of the undivided interest, together with the survivorship rights, are deemed to have been completed upon delivery and acceptance of the deed creating the interest. Most states have joint tenancy statutes that were adopted to reverse the common law presumption that a conveyance to two or more persons would create a joint tenancy with the right of survivorship.4

Once a state's law is applied to determine whether a joint tenancy has been created, the next major title problem is whether an act by one of the joint tenants has caused a severance of the joint tenancy, thereby converting the relationship to a tenancy in common. The first issue receives considerable attention, the second very little. How many lawyers conduct a review of the events in the life of a joint t