Massachusetts Agencies

Grantees Named in the Alternative

Deeds and Conveyances

Patton on Title, West Publishing Company (1957), §336 states this:

Because of the lack of certainty which would thereby result, a deed to grantees in the alternative usually renders the conveyance void.[1]

At least the above statement would be true where the two named grantees are alive. In the Readycase cited in the footnote below the Michigan court ruled that a deed to grantees in the alternative − in that case, to a named individual or his heirs − would vest title in the heirs where the individual was dead at the time. (No living individual can have heirs and no one can be an heir of a living person. Because this is so, a deed to an individual or his heirs necessarily excludes one of those named grantees, depending upon whether the individual is alive ort not, and so the ruling in Readyis not that surprising: if the individual was alive, he would take title; if he was dead, the heirs would take. On the other hand, if a deed names individuals as alternate grantees, the rule in Ready does not seem applicable, even if one of them is dead, because it cannot be determined within the four corners of the instrument who necessarily would be excluded from the grant. ) Ready, supposedly, in turn, cites other cases, including Empire Ranch & Cattle Co., also cited in the footnote below, which seems to stand for the proposition that the disjunctive "or" can, in come instances, be interpreted as the conjunctive "and," if this will carry out the intention of the grantor.

1 Footnote 47 in the original text:

Ready v. Kearsley, 14 Mich. 215 and cases cited.

However, there may occur situations in which to effectuate the intent of the parties, the word "or" will need to be given the effect of "and." Cf. Empire Ranch & Cattle Co. v. Stratton, 22 Colo.App. 577, 126 P. 1094.