supra (deed); 23 Am.Jur.2d Deeds § 159 (1965).
Defendants argue that the reference in the 1944 deed to "Pauline E. Liner, Herbert L. Wright and Mattie G. Wright, surviving joint tenants of Jefferson E. Liner" indicates an intention for each to hold a one-third interest. But this clause in the 1944 deed describes equally well an entirety holding a one-half interest jointly with another person. In any event, the parties probably accepted the language which the draftsman used in the deed without extensive consideration of the legal niceties involved.
A common sense analysis suggests that in 1939 the two families intended to own the property in two equal shares. There is no evidence to the contrary and this is the most likely interpretation of their joint purchase. It is unlikely that the parties intended for the death of one member of a family to change that family's interest in the property. Rather, the most reasonable assumption is that when Jefferson Liner died in 1942, Pauline Liner believed that she still owned her family's one-half interest in the property.
The conveyances in 1944 and 1953, reflecting the separation and reconciliation of the Wrights, transferred the property from three owners to two owners and back to three owners. Defendants' interpretation of the deeds would result in the property being divided into thirds, then halves, then thirds again. A more reasonable explanation is that when Herbert Wright left home in 1944, the parties simply wanted the deed to reflect the true occupants of the property, for example for liability purposes. When he returned, the deed was changed again to reflect the actual occupants. It is unlikely that any modification of the property interests held by the respective families was contemplated by these conveyances. Under defendants' interpretation the Wrights jointly owned a two-thirds interest before Herbert Wright's departure in 1944. There appears no reason for the Wrights to reduce their family interest from two-thirds to one-half merely because Herbert Wright departed. Such an interpretation would amount to an outright gift of a one-sixth interest to Pauline Liner. Likewise, in 1953, there appears no reason for Pauline Liner to reduce her interest from one-half to one-third in order to put Herbert Wright's name back on the deed. Thus, the only reasonable conclusion to be drawn from the 1944 and 1953 conveyances is that the parties intended a one-half interest to remain with the respective families, regardless of the manner in which the names appeared on the deed.
In view of the foregoing, the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment is granted, and the defendants' cross-motion for summary judgment is denied. Counsel will prepare an appropriate order.