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Massachusetts Agencies

Dead Grantee

Deeds and Conveyances

A deed requires, among other things, "acceptance," so if the named grantee is dead it would seem that no conveyance could be perfected because no acceptance could be accomplished. Where multiple grantees are named, even though one or more of them is dead, there is nonetheless a person who is capable of accepting title, but the question then becomes, what is the result of that deed—is it void or does it pass any title and, if so, to whom? Although there seems to be some authority that where one of two named jointtenants died before the deed was given the title under the deed will inure fully to the living grantee,[1] the rule in the case of a tenancy in common is otherwise. In such a case there is authority that the grantor retains an interest in the property and shares title with the living grantee.[2] The rule would seem to be a logical extension of the rule that a deed to a dead person is void. See R. Powell & P. Rohan, 3 The Law of Property ¶455.1[1] (1992), §898. There are no Massachusetts cases on point, however.

1 The theory seems to be that the joint tenancy itself contemplates that one or the other grantee will ultimately succeed to the title and it makes no difference when the deceased grantee died.

2 See Treadwell v. Bulkley 4 Day ( Conn.) 395, cited in Patton on Title, West Publishing Company (1957), §337.