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French v. French

    Citation

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    Bloomberg Law

    Brief Fact Summary. A conveyance from son (Plaintiff) to father (Defendant) of a life estate in favor of the Defendant was challenged as being statutorily insufficient as being attested by only one witness when the statute required two witnesses.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. Under the statute of uses, 27 Hen. VIII. Cap.10, “where any person stands seised of any lands to the use of any other person by reason of bargain, sale or feoffment, such person that have any such use shall be deemed and adjudged in lawful seisen, estate and possession thereof, to all intents and purposes.”

    Facts. A purported conveyance from Plaintiff to Defendant of a life estate in favor of the Defendant was challenged as being statutorily insufficient because only one witness attested to the conveyance. The statute required two witnesses.

    Issue. There are two issued presented:
    Was the purported conveyance in this case defective under the statute requiring a conveyance to be attested by two persons?
    Is every deed, which does not comply with the statutory requirements, wholly inoperative?

    Held. No. Judgment for the Defendant.
    Under the statute of uses, 27 Hen. VIII. Cap.10, “where any person stands seised of any lands to the use of any other person by reason of bargain, sale or feoffment, such person that have any such use shall be deemed and adjudged in lawful seisen, estate and possession thereof, to all intents and purposes.”
    The bargainer contracts to sell the land, and receives the purchase money; after this, he is, in equity, considered as seised in the land to the use of the bargainee; and this statute unites the possession to the use, so that the very instant the use is raised, the possession is joined to it, and the bargainee becomes seised of the land. There must be pecuniary consideration, which does not necessarily mean monetary consideration. If a man covenants to stand seised to the use of another person, a use is thereby raised, which the statute will execute.
    In this case, the Defendant first gave a deed to the son and then the son gave a conveyance of a life estate back to the father, and the latter conveyance is at issue. The statute of uses is applied to raise a use in favor of the father, which is an equitable theory not resting on the formalities of the deed.
    Another form of use is a covenant to stand seised. This is only applicable to uses arising from blood or marriage. If a man covenant to stand seised to the use of his wife, son or cousin, without saying in consideration of natural love, the covenant will raise the use, and the statute will execute it.
    The statute regarding the deed formalities applies to “bargains and sales, and other conveyances.” Thus, the statute of uses is still operational, and has not been specifically overruled by the statute. In this case the contract of the grantor was made in consideration of blood and that grant was sufficient to raise a use, which is executed by the statute of uses.

    Discussion. Clearly the facts suggested the following scenario: First, the Defendant grants the Plaintiff the deed to the lands, including the portion, which the Defendant lived on. Secondly, the Plaintiff gave a statutorily ineffective conveyance of a life estate back to the Defendant. Thirdly, the Plaintiff challenged the validity of the life estate in favor of Defendant. The court found that the consideration for the first transfer was based on blood. The statute of uses is an equitable solution to the statutory problems of the second transfer.


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