Estate of Wall

Facts: Property is purchased by a married couple with money contributed by both. The husband qualifies for a purchase-money mortgage for additional funds to pay the purchase price. Title is vested in the husband’s name as separate property which required the wife to execute a quitclaim deed conveying any interest of the wife to the husband. The husband advises the wife the quitclaim is normal procedure when buying property. The mortgage payments are made from community funds. Later, the husband dies. In a probate action, the husband’s successor seeks to establish title to the property as the deceased husband’s separate property.

Claims: The wife claims the property is community property since the purchase price for the property was paid by funds from both spouses, it was purchased during the marriage, payments on the mortgage were paid from community funds, and the husband represented the quitclaim deed was normal procedure when buying a property.

Counterclaim: The husband’s successor claims the property is separate property and was not transmuted to community property since the property title was vested solely in the husband and the wife executed a quitclaim deed.

Holding: A California appeals court holds the property is community property despite the vesting of title separately in the husband since both the husband and wife contributed funds to purchase the property and the husband misrepresented the legal effect of the quitclaim deed signed by the wife. [Estate of Wall (2021) 68 CA5th 168]

Read Estate of Wall in full here.

Related Readings:

Legal Aspects of Real Estate

Chapter 19: Grant deed vs. quitclaim deed

Chapter 27: The right of survivorship among co-owners