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e-Journal Summary
Opinion Date: 07/17/2012
e-Journal Date: 08/01/2012
Full Text Opinion

Practice Area(s):   Contracts
Real Property

Issues: What type of deed should be tendered; Contract interpretation; Burkhardt v. Bailey; Maiden v. Rozwood; MCL 565.361(1); Whether the appellants' claim that the decedent was "mentally incapacitated" when signing the durable power of attorney (DPA) created a genuine issue of material fact; Persinger v. Holst; Whether allowing the appellants to amend the complaint would have been "futile"; Boylan v. Fifty Eight, LLC; Summary disposition before the completion of discovery; Village of Dimondale v. Grable; Standing; Manuel v. Gill; MEEMIC Ins. Co. v. DTE Energy Co.; Motion for summary disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(10); Greene v. A P Prods., Ltd.; MCR 2.111(F); MCR 2.202(B); Use of the term "may"; Church & Church Inc. v. A-1 Carpentry; Wilson v. Taylor; MCR 2.209; Personal representative (PR)
Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished)
Case Name: Siegler v. Estate of Siegler
e-Journal Number: 52167
Judge(s): Per Curiam - O’Connell, Jansen, and Riordan

The court held that the appellants failed to raise a genuine issue of material fact suggesting that the quitclaim deed executed the same day as the lease was not an appropriate deed. The facts of the case were undisputed. Decedent-Jean B. Siegler and her husband were married for over 68 years and had 8 children. In 1989, decedent signed her last will and testament, naming appellees-John and Janet as co-PRs. In 2003, decedent signed a DPA, appointing her two daughters as attorney's-in-fact. This DPA became relevant in 2009, when the attorney's-in-fact and decedent's husband (in his individual capacity) signed a lease agreement with appellants, consenting to lease real property to appellants. "As part of the lease agreement, appellants had an option to purchase the property for $75,000, reduced by any lease payments already tendered." The lease also provided that Joel, another of decedent's sons, would receive the total amount owed under the lease upon the death of decedent and her husband. "On the same day the lease was signed, the attorneys-in-fact and decedent's husband executed a quitclaim deed to appellants. The deed was held in escrow by an independent attorney representing the attorneys-in-fact and decedent's husband." Decedent died in early 2011, only weeks after her husband's death. One month after her death, appellants exercised their option under the lease agreement to purchase the property. Two months later, they sued John and Janet. Appellants requested specific performance of the option to purchase in the lease agreement through a warranty deed, not quitclaim deed. Eventually, attorney-Thomas became a party to the suit and was appointed general PR of decedent's estate, although the trial court ordered John and Janet to remain in the case as interested parties. Rather than filing an answer to the complaint, John and Janet filed a motion for summary disposition pursuant to MCR 2.116(C)(10). A hearing was held on the motion and the parties agreed that specific performance was proper. The only remaining issue was the type of deed to be tendered. However, appellants argued that John and Janet should not even be allowed to remain in the case, since the PR had been appointed and John and Janet lacked standing to file the motion for summary disposition. The trial court held that they had standing and granted the motion. While appellants alleged that the amount owed on the lease should be paid to the estate and not Joel, the lease specifically stated that Joel will receive the total amount owed on the lease when decedent and her husband die. "A mere allegation or claim that the amount should be paid to the estate is insufficient to contravene the plain language in the lease agreement or to create a genuine issue of material fact." As to appellants' request for a warranty deed, Michigan law provides that when the type of deed is not specified in a land contract, then the conveyance shall be done "by an appropriate deed." Since the lease agreement did not specify a particular type deed, the only requirement was that of an appropriate deed. "While appellants clearly prefer a warranty deed, they provided no evidence that a quitclaim deed was not an appropriate deed under the statute." Affirmed.

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