Washington Law Review


The enactment of Initiative 2081 in the 1960 election authorizes creation of joint tenancies in real and personal property in Washington generally. Many of the potential problems which may confront Washington lawyers because of the general availability of the joint tenancy device are discussed in this symposium. An orderly presentation of the arguments and identification of the particulars to be resolved will be fostered by the effort of the Review editors in assembling the material in this issue. I am sure that members of the Washington bar will agree that we owe a substantial debt to the authors. The discussions which follow reveal expectable differences between the tasks of the counselor, the advocate and the title insurer. To the extent that the informed lawyer is allowed to participate in a joint tenancy transaction at its inception he will be able to meet many of the requirements of the title insurer and minimize the likelihood of litigation, but until answers are provided either by decision or legislation no joint tenancy transaction will be much insulated from litigation, and at least two circumstances suggest that a substantial number of unexpected court proceedings will develop in this area. The first is the practical circumstance that many, if not most, of the joint tenancies will be created without adequate, reliable information. The second is, in a sense, the reverse: an apparently rather widely held belief by laymen that the passage of the Initiative converted ownerships into joint tenancies automatically. This belief appears to be applicable to husband-wife ownerships, and administration of intestate estates and controversies about successions may be more numerous in the future because of the misapprehension.

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