A husband, Robert Presseau, and wife, Carol Ann Presseau, owned as joint tenants a matrimonial home. In 2004 the wife was diagnosed with cancer. Being unhappy in her marriage with her husband she executed a warranty deed to herself presumably with the intention of severing the joint tenancy. She then executed a will leaving her estate to the parties' two children. Robert did not consent to the deed and only became aware of its existence after the wife's death in February 2008. Robert applied pursuant to s.8(2) of the Matrimonial Property Act to set aside the deed on the ground that the husband had not consented to the disposition.
- Does a deed by one joint tenant to themselves sever a joint tenancy?
Judgement for the applicant.
Dellapinna held that a joint tenancy can be severed by a joint tenant executing and registering a conveyance to him or herself because it destroys the unity of title essential to the continuance of a joint tenancy. However, at common-law a conveyance to one's self is a legal impossibility and such conveyances are only possible if allowed by provincial legislation. While some provinces allow for such conveyances Nova Scotia is not one of them and thus judgement was granted in favor of Robert Presseau.
One can unilaterally sever a joint tenancy by transferring your share to yourself by deed if allowed by provincial statute; if you do this, then the estate becomes a tenancy in common.