Two-Minute MBE Question: Real Property (joint tenancy)
Here, we discuss how to approach the following Real Property MBE question in two minutes. Read the question below then check out the YouYube video below for an answer explanation in less than two minutes!
Real Property MBE Question:
A sister and brother own property as joint tenants. A victim of a car accident has a judgment against the sister after a court found she was negligent in causing a car accident that injured the victim. The victim properly filed the judgment and has a lien on the sister’s real property.
The statute in the jurisdiction states: “Any judgment properly filed shall, for ten years from the date of filing, be a lien on the real property then owned or subsequently acquired by any person against whom the judgment is rendered.” Before the victim took any additional action, the sister died.
Who has an interest in the land?
(A) The brother.
(B) The brother and the sister’s heirs.
(C) The brother and the victim.
(D) The brother, subject to the victim’s judgment.
Real Property MBE Video Answer Explanation:
Looking for the written answer explanation?
You can find the answer to the Real Property MBE question in the video above or the text below. Just click “SHOW ANSWER”
(A) is the correct answer. A joint tenancy has a “right of survivorship.” So if one joint tenant dies, the other will take the joint tenant’s entire interest in the land. However, one can unilaterally sever a joint tenancy during one’s lifetime. This unilateral severance changes a joint tenancy into a tenancy in common.
A joint tenancy can be severed in four ways (mnemonic = “G-SAM”):
- (i) giving it away during life,
- (ii) signing a contract of sale,
- (iii) an actual judicial sale by a creditor (foreclosure on interest), or
- (iv) granting a mortgage in a title theory state.
Here, none of those occurred. The creditor was close to “iii”—if the creditor would have foreclosed while the sister was alive, the creditor would have an interest. But the creditor did not do so!
Because the joint tenancy was never severed, only the brother owns the land. The judgment was against the sister, and her interest “disappeared” the moment she died. The brother took over the whole interest. In other words, the judgment lien creditor has an interest in whatever the sister’s interest is in—which is in this case, nothing. The judgment lien creditor could have avoided this by foreclosing on its interest while the sister was alive, but the creditor did not do so.
(B), (C), and (D) are incorrect because they do not follow this logic.
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