Sample Law Essays on Legal Questions: A Joint-Tenants Agreement
A Joint-Tenants Agreement
A property owned by two persons under a “joint tenants” agreement implies that these individuals share equal ownership of the property. They also have equal, undivided interest to keep or dispose of the property. These mean that each share is equal, and no joint tenant can have a larger share than other co-owners or owner (Harlow and Rowlings 99).
This property is fixed and unalterable by any condition for its lifetime. The joint tenants hold the property under the same title deed and enjoy equal rights until such a time comes when one of them dies. The death of one tenant automatically transfers the entire property to the surviving tenant or tenants, and if the joint-tenants mutually agree to sell the property, they must divide the profits equally amongst the owners.
A Person’s Will
There are essential qualities that a person must have if he/she wishes to make a will. These include the fact that the person must be a competent testator or of sound mind. Furthermore, he/she must be over 18years (or if he/she has been married, then the person can be below 18 years). Additionally, the person must have two witnesses present at the time of signing the will; the latter must sign the will in the presence of the testator and must see the testate sign the will. As explained by Cooper (202), these two witnesses must not be beneficiaries of the will.
Every state has limits on types of assets transferrable in a will. Assets owned solely and those owned, as “tenants in common” can “pass under” will, but some assets “pass over” the Will, i.e., are not transferrable to others in a will. Examples of these assets that cannot be transferred under include property in living trusts, property people own as joint tenants, life insurance and pension plans proceeds, as well as gifts presented to others during the deceased lifetime.
The assets that are not transferrable in a will, such as assets in a living trust, pension plans, and proceeds from a life insurance policy, automatically go to the beneficiaries unless the deceased named the estate as the beneficiary. As for property owned as a joint tenant with the right of survivorship, the death of one party automatically transfers his/her share to the co-owners. Others include informal trust accounts, banking and investment products payable to a designated beneficiary (Lehmann 45).
A Void Marriage
This term refers to a marriage that is invalid from its beginning. A marriage is void under the law if it is unlawful (has no legal recognition) in accordance with the laws of the jurisdiction of a country where the marriage took place. Either party can terminate this type of marriage without obtaining an annulment or divorce. Some of the jurisdictions include statutes, constitutions, and religious law.
Some of the examples of null or void marriages are when parties’ degree of relationship is too close such as a brother and sister or a parent and child, and an authority or state itself prohibits incestuous relationship. Other marriages that are void by statute include group marriages, same-sex marriages, underage spouses, and a crime of polygamy in some states.
Rules of Intestacy
If a person dies intestate, it means the state appoints an administrator under the intestacy rule of the state of his or her residence to distribute the estate in question (Lehmann 45). These rules apply after debts and taxes deductions in a fixed order as follows:
- Married Couples and Civil Partners. If a person dies intestate, then the spouse will receive a certain amount according to the laws of descent distribution of the country (say, the first $250,000), plus half of everything else owned above that amount if the deceased had children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren.
However, were the deceased married in a civil partnership, the civil partner would not automatically inherit the entire estate. It is important to note that despite recent reforms in the intestacy rules and inheritance tax laws, they still do not recognize cohabitation despite the increase of this practice in modern society. The spouse receives the rest of the estate if the deceased had no children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren.
- Children. The rules of intestacy state that the children, by birth or adopted will inherit half of everything else (i.e., above the first $250,000) after the spouse inherits his/her share. The children must divide equally this portion. In cases where there is no surviving spouse, the children inherit everything, and if the estate is worth less than $250,000, the children inherit nothing. The children are entitled to their share only when they reach 18 years or marry.
iii. Grandchildren/Great-Grandchildren. If there are no surviving children, the rules of intestacy state that the grandchildren shall divide the estate equally, and when they are all deceased, the latter goes to the great-grandchildren.
- Parents. When there are no living grandchildren or great-grandchildren, the surviving parents of the deceased will inherit the estate with equal shares.
- Other Relatives. In case there are no surviving parents, the brothers and sisters of the deceased will get an equal share of the inheritance. If there are no surviving brothers and sisters, the nephews and nieces will inherit the share of the estate. When there are none of the above relatives, half-siblings inherit the share, and if none of them exists, the grandparents. In the absence of the latter, there are aunts and uncles (or their children if they are deceased) who inherit the share.
- The Crown. If there are no living relatives who can inherit the estate under the rules of intestacy, the latter passes to the crown/state through the Crown Solicitor’s Office. This means the state inherits the estate of the deceased.
There are different laws in different countries that show the flowchart of a property belonging to a deceased. According to the Law of Intestate Succession in England, Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland, and majority of the states in the USA, the orders followed in dividing a decedent’s estate are similar. Hence, the closest blood relative of the decedent inherits the estate if the latter were childless and widowed.
In the case of Daisy’s estate, her mother would have inherited the estate, but she died two months earlier. Therefore, Daisy’s estate will go to her two siblings, the surviving sister, and her deceased brother will share the estate equally. This way, half of Daisy’s estate will go to the surviving sister, while the other one will belong to her brother who died two years ago. This way, Daisy’s nephews or nieces will inherit the other half (the share of the estate that belonged to the father). Her brother who died in a diving accident as a teenager will not be included in the will.
Cooper, Phillip J. Public Law and Public Administration. 4th ed., Wadsworth Publishing, 2006.
Harlow, Carol, and Richard Rawlings. Law and Administration. 3rd ed., Cambridge University Press, 2009.
Lehmann, Karin. “Testamentary Freedom Versus Testamentary Duty: In Search of a Better Balance.” Acta Juridica, vol. 2014