D&S attorney Nicole Martucci recently argued a matter of first impression before the Rhode Island Supreme Court that will surely have a significant impact on estate planning and real estate law going forward.
The Supreme Court has concluded that common law rights of survivorship associated with joint tenancy are abrogated by the mere filing of a partition action.
The March 2021 article in Rhode Island Lawyers Weekly entitled: “Partition action survives death of a joint tenant” takes a deep dive into the Supreme Court’s decision and includes an interview with Nicole regarding the potential unintended consequences and practical implications in the areas of estate planning and real estate law this decision will have.
Interpreting an applicable statute unique to this state, the Rhode Island Supreme Court has held that a pending partition action against joint tenants will survive the death of a co-tenant, allowing the estate to proceed with the action, notwithstanding the common law right of survivorship.
In the 14-page decision, authored by Chief Justice Paul Suttell, the Supreme Court recognized the Rhode Island common law principle that joint tenancies carry with them common law rights of survivorship, but concluded that the “plain and ordinary” language enacted by the Legislature abrogates that right of survivorship once a partition action is filed – even despite no final judgment having yet entered.
This decision diverges from the almost universal rule around the country that a pending partition action does not survive the death of a joint tenant.
To learn more, reach out to Nicole here.