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Tenants in common

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Parents quit claim property to their three children "as tenants in common".  No other language in the deed (such as "right of survivorship").  Am I correct in believing any one of the 3 siblings can convey his/her interest in the property without consent of the others?  Can this conveyance be accomplished in a Will or Trust?   What if 1 of the 3 siblings dies intestate, who owns the property - the remaining 2 siblings? or the deceased sibling's heirs?   I would appreciate assistance with these questions.  Thank you.
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“Alternate litigation funding” made the news recently when Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit, entirely (but secretly) funded by Peter Thiel , ultimately bankrupted the gossip blog Gawker. Litigation funding is not new in Michigan. A simple Google search returns pages of companies offering funding services to Michigan litigants. The most common services provide nonrecourse funding for legal fees, costs, and expenses to individual litigants or working capital to stay afloat during litigation. What is new, however, is the growing field of litigation finance investing. Commercial litigation finance is a growing industry. Recently, the University of Michigan agreed ...
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​This past June, Martin Shkreli ’s attorneys told U.S. District Court Judge Kiyo Matsumoto not to believe Shkreli’s tweets and posts on social media alluding to the fact that he had access to large sums of cash. The argument made by Benjamin Brafman was part of a request to reduce Shkreli’s bail from $5 million to $2 million. In particular, Brafman stated, “when people tweet, they don’t always mean what they say.” All this raises the question, is social media making it more difficult to control clients? Telling a client to stay off of social media is “easier said than done in today’s world,” says Erik Syverson in the article “ Social Media’s Impact on ...
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Neighborly disputes are nothing new. In fact, territorial disputes are one of those things that seem to be common among every society throughout history. Compared to the struggle of a nation-state to secure its borders from, say, the army of Genghis Khan, the arguments between your average residential street dwellers can seem rather petty. As a real estate attorney, I ran into plenty of these cases. Probably the most entertaining (and mystifying) were the dock disputes between folks who already had a house on the water and couldn’t find anything better to do than argue about whose dock should go where. Michigan Real Property Law §3.10 has a good discussion ...
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​ I’ve talked to many Michigan lawyers about how they developed their skills. Most start by telling me a story about how they watched and learned from more experienced lawyers. Many remember how much they learned from the mistakes they made. But, today, opportunities to watch and learn are few, and getting away from the office has become ever more difficult. ICLE’s new Elder Law Certificate Program (ELCP) lets lawyers practice fundamental skills with simulated but realistic scenarios and clients. It’s practical, effective, engaging, and entirely online. More than 40 lawyers enthusiastically offered their expertise to develop scenarios and exercises ...
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In 2009, the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office located more than 11,000 untested rape kits in a police warehouse in Detroit. One of the biggest problems Kym Worthy, the Wayne County Prosecutor, faced was a lack of funding. Even after receiving federal and state grants of over $5 million, Worthy still felt that the investigation and processing of all the untested rape kits would cost an additional $10 million. Regardless of money constraints, the prosecutor’s office has been working at double speed on these untested kits. As of May 1, 2017, there have been over 92 convictions from evidence tied to the first batch of kits. The kits are being tested ...
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I despise the passive voice in legal writing. Most of the time, it takes up unnecessary space and makes the writing pretty boring. So I try to eliminate it. “The complaint was filed by plaintiff’s counsel before the limitations period had expired” becomes “Plaintiff’s counsel timely filed the complaint.” So much better, right? I will acknowledge there is a time and place for the passive voice . “Mr. Smith was attacked at 3 a.m.” might make sense if there is no identified assailant and the writer wants the focus to be on Mr. Smith. And yes, in fiction, the passive voice can lend a fun element of mystery or stylistic flavor (e.g., “The body was found at ...
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​ A series of interesting circumstances landed me in the hospital last July. The admitting clerk in the ER scolded me for not having a living will or patient advocate designation (PAD). I didn’t appreciate her concern at the time, but her point is well taken. I should stop procrastinating and draft a PAD. I’ve put it off largely because I don’t know who to name. I don’t have a spouse, my children are very young, and my parents don’t live nearby. I know many of you probate practitioners routinely counsel clients with the same concerns. As luck would have it, I’ve worked with several wonderful lawyers over the past year on this very topic. In a set of ...
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​ Thanks to social media, you can now safely warm up your car while you wait in the comfort of your own home. 2017 PA 61 amended MCL 257.767 after a Roseville man created a nationwide uproar by posting his $128 ticket on social media. He found the ticket when he brought his toddler out to his car. He had left the car to warm up in his driveway on a frigid winter morning last January.  PA 61 specifically repealed AC R 28.1458, which prohibited allowing a vehicle to stand unattended on a street or any other place without the engine stopped, the ignition locked, and the key removed and in the driver’s possession. Newly amended MCL 257.676 now applies ...
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On stepping out of an elevator into the lobby of a family law office, during a very stressful time, I was greeted by this painting: Antibes, Claude Monet, 1888 Yes, this is a sunny day, but that lone tree, long-blasted by wind, was not, I would suggest, the right image for the office. To my mind, they might as well have had this hanging on the wall: Migrant Mother , Dorothea Lange, 1936 It was an act of will not to get back onto the elevator and leave. People visiting family law offices are often experiencing a high level of anxiety, and the images in your office can either soothe and inspire, or agitate. So look carefully at the pictures ...
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I decided to take my cell phone in the swimming pool with me. Hey, if it were your toddler’s first swimming class, you might do the same. Anyway, my “waterproof” phone case turned out to be, well, not. The result was that all the king’s rice and all the king’s plastic bags could not bring my phone back to life. So the next day I bought a new phone and got to find out just how many of my dog/kid/car pictures were or were not backed up somewhere on the Internet. As it turns out, those cloud services work pretty well. Unsurprisingly, iCloud knew what apps I had on my last phone, and restoration was pretty quick and easy. However, pictures I had only on my phone ...
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​ Legal malpractice claims are on the rise according to a recently released ABA study that examines claims trends from 2012 to 2015. The study showed that personal injury attorneys had the highest percentage of all claims, followed by claims in family law, trusts and estates, bankruptcy, and collections. Interestingly, the majority of issues that were reported involved the preparation, filing, and transmittal of documents , mostly contracts, leases, deeds, wills, and trusts. Participants in the study voiced concerns that lawyers were not memorializing their clients’ decisions in writing and taking care in drafting.   This news got me thinking. What ...
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In May 2017, Oklahoma’s governor signed into law   House Bill 1470 ,   extending the statute of limitations for victims of childhood sexual assault   and exploitation. However, during a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting, the chair, who is an attorney, proposed an amendment that essentially dismantled the American rule about attorney fees. Apparently those voting on the amendment misunderstood its ramifications, and its passage was accidental. The passage of this law sent a ripple through the legal community, not just in Oklahoma.  There are only five attorneys serving in the Oklahoma legislature. Nationally , only 14% of state legislators are attorneys. ...
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The Life of P #

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Though the assignment of state bar numbers to attorneys licensed in Michigan has become customary, it was not always so. Professional numbers, or “P numbers,” were first assigned to Michigan lawyers in 1974 . At the time, many protested the idea. Some attorneys likened it to George Orwell’s 1984 , claiming Big Brother would be keeping tabs on legal professionals. The rumor mill worked overtime in the years that followed. Attorneys thought that the Michigan Supreme Court was going to use P numbers to track each attorney’s cases in order to implement rules limiting the number of cases a lawyer could handle. Others took it a step further and believed that ...
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We’ve written before about a package of bills concerning medical marijuana (2016 PA  281 ,  282 ,  283 ) that went into effect on December 20, 2016. Those bills not only amended the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA), they also added two new bills representing a “ pervasive regulation of medical marijuana activities .” The Facilities Act created a licensing board, and the Tracking Act established a statewide monitoring system to track marijuana inventory. In April 2017, another medical marijuana─related amendment of particular importance to residential landlords went into effect. 2016 PA 546. Before this amendment, there was some confusion about whether ...
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When you think of women’s rights issues, equal pay, fair parental leave, and freedom from sexual discrimination and harassment probably come to mind. But what about menstrual equity ? Increasingly, public health advocates and political activists are pointing to periods as a critical, though often overlooked, part of the conversation. Stigmatization of periods and lack of access to menstrual products can create educational barriers and serious health concerns for women in the United States and around the world. Women in financial straits or experiencing homelessness have an extra hurdle when it comes to their personal health and hygiene, as menstrual ...
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In the future, “smart” contracts will execute automatically, IP rights become irrefutable, real estate deeds are transferred with confidence and without the need for a title search because of Blockchain. If you don’t know much about Blockchain yet, you will soon. “Blockchain is a vast, global distributed ledger or database running on millions of devices and open to anyone, where not just information but anything of value money, but also titles, deeds, identities, even votes  can be moved, stored and managed securely and privately. Trust is established through mass collaboration and clever code rather than by powerful intermediaries like governments and ...
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My family has its roots in Michigan family farms. So far, I’m the only lawyer who grew up on one of my family’s farms. A few months ago, however, a nephew called to talk about the possibility of law school. How did I advise this potential second lawyer who grew up on a family farm? It’s not surprising that my nephew is considering leaving the farm. When my father was deciding what to do in life, 60 percent of Americans worked on farms or in factories. It was possible for him to buy 160 acres and support his family with the farm and an outside factory job. When it was time for me to decide what to do in life, only 36 percent of Americans worked on farms or ...
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Last year, Covenant motions in no-fault health care provider cases were all the rage . After the court of appeals decision in Covenant Medical Center, Inc v State Farm Mutual Auto Insurance Company , no-fault insurers couldn’t use a global release from the injured claimant to extinguish liability to providers that treated the claimant and gave the insurer notice. This led to parties filing motions in circuit court to figure out how to allocate settlement proceeds. Fast forward to date. Not only are Covenant motions a thing of the past, so are direct actions by health care providers. On May 25, the Michigan Supreme Court held that a health care provider ...
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It might surprise you to know that focusing on a specific area of law, rather than being a generalist, may be the smarter, more profitable way to go. According to the 2017 BCG Attorney Search’s State of the Market Report , niche practices are on the rise. What is it? So what does it mean to have a niche practice? In short, it’s a focused practice that is marketed to a discrete segment of the legal market, says Jeramie Fortenberry. “Some niche practices focus on practice areas, such as bankruptcy or personal injury law. Others focus on demographics, such as age, gender, [or] occupation.” Others combine both—“immigration law for athletes or estate planning ...
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