July 18, 2019

Colorado Supreme Court: Supreme Court May Review Title Board Abstract Using Same Requirements as for Single Subject and Title Disputes

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in In the Matter of the Title, Ballot Title and Submission Clause for 2017–2018 #4 on Tuesday, May 30, 2017.

Single Subject—Fiscal Impact Statement Abstract—Standard of Review.

The supreme court held that Initiative #4 contains a single subject: limiting housing growth in Colorado. The court also considered, for the first time, its authority to review an abstract prepared pursuant to C.R.S. § 1-40-105.5 and the proper standard to apply when reviewing such an abstract. The court held that C.R.S. § 1-40-107 grants the court reviewing authority, and the proper standard of review is the same standard the court applies to the single-subject and clear-title requirements—that is, the court draws all legitimate presumptions in favor of the propriety of the Title Board’s decision and will  only overturn the Title Board’s decision in a clear case. Under that standard, the court upheld the Title Board’s approval of the abstract at issue in this case. Therefore, the court affirmed the actions of the Title Board.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Tenth Circuit: Bare Legal Title Is Not An Interest that Can Be Avoided in Bankruptcy

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in In re Nguyen: Davis v. Pham on Monday, April 13, 2015.

In September 2007, Hoa Thi Pham purchased property in joint tenancy with her now common law husband, Noel Esplund, so that Pham had a two-thirds interest in the property and Esplund had a one-third interest. Pham then conveyed her interest to the couple’s children, Tung Nguyen and Lisa Dang (now Lisa Stirrat), as joint tenants with rights of survivorship. In May 2008, Nguyen transferred his interest to Esplund and Dang via quit claim deed for no compensation. In May 2009, Nguyen and his wife filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection. The bankruptcy trustee, Carl Davis, filed a complaint in Bankruptcy Court, seeking to avoid the transfer from Nguyen under 11 U.S.C. § 548(a)(1)(B), alleging that Nguyen transferred his interest in the property less than two years before filing from bankruptcy, was insolvent at the time of the transfer, and received inadequate consideration for the transfer.

The Bankruptcy Court concluded Nguyen possessed only bare legal title to the property and his mother possessed equitable ownership of his one-third share, finding the transfer created a resulting trust under a Kansas statute that allows a trust to form when a payor provides consideration for a piece of property and then enters into an agreement with another “without fraudulent intent” to hold the property in trust. The Bankruptcy Court based its decision on the circumstances of the agreement, to which Pham and Nguyen testified at the evidentiary hearing, and concluded that bare legal title, when transferred for no consideration, is not an “interest in property” that may be avoided. The trustee appealed to the BAP, which affirmed the Bankruptcy Court’s decision.

The Tenth Circuit first noted that the parties do not dispute the correctness of the Bankruptcy Court’s determination that if Nguyen possessed solely “bare legal title” to the property, § 548(a)(1)(B) could not be used to avoid the transfer. The Tenth Circuit further found no dispute as to the Bankruptcy Court’s factual finding regarding the intent of the parties in the transfer. Therefore, the issue on appeal was whether such transfers are contrary to Kansas law.

Davis argued that a resulting trust is incompatible with a joint tenancy under Kansas law and Tenth Circuit precedent. The Tenth Circuit first found that the precedent on which Davis relied had been impliedly overruled by the Kansas Supreme Court. Analysis of the Kansas case law revealed that Kansas law does allow resulting trusts in joint tenancy situations. Because Davis did not challenge the Bankruptcy Court’s factual finding that Pham and Nguyen intended to create a resulting trust, or its conclusion that bare legal title is not an interest that can be avoided under § 548(a)(1)(B), the Tenth Circuit affirmed the findings of the Bankruptcy Court.

Frederick Skillern: Real Estate Case Law — Titles and Title Insurance (1)

Editor’s note: This is Part 16 of a series of posts in which Denver-area real estate attorney Frederick Skillern provides summaries of case law pertinent to real estate practitioners (click here for previous posts). These updates originally appeared as materials for the 32nd Annual Real Estate Symposium in July 2014.

frederick-b-skillernBy Frederick B. Skillern

Grosboll v. Grosboll (In re Estate of Grossboll)
Colorado Court of Appeals, October 24, 2013
2013 COA 141

Partnership property; statute of frauds.

Jo Ann Grosboll, decedents’ daughter, appeals the district court’s order finding that the sales proceeds of an apartment building are an asset of the parents’ estates rather than an asset of Grosboll Manor, L.L.L.P., a limited partnership formed by Jo Ann and her parents. Jo Ann’s brother, understandably, argues that the apartments are property of the estate. The key issue revolves around the fact that there is no deed of conveyance to the partnership.

As a matter of first impression, the court considers whether real property owned individually by one who enters into a partnership with others may become a partnership asset without a written conveyance sufficient to satisfy the statute of frauds. The court holds that a written conveyance (such as a deed) from a partner to the partnership is not necessarily required.

The court reviews the historical development of the entity theory of partnerships and the Uniform Partnership Act. The current version of the partnership act allows real property titled in an individual partner’s name to be deemed an asset of the partnership. The trust relationship between partners provides adequate protection against fraud in oral agreements making a partner’s real property a partnership asset. As a result, by statute, the intention of the partners determines whether such real property is a partnership asset. The existence of a written conveyance is a factor for a court to consider in evaluating that intent.

Jo Ann contended that, according to the terms of the written partnership agreement and the intention of the partners, Loma Vista was a partnership asset. The partnership agreement provided that (1) title to all assets of the partnership shall be deemed to be owned by the partnership”; (2) record title to any or all assets of the partnership may be held in the name of . . . one or more nominees”; and (3) all assets of the partnership shall be recorded as the property of the partnership in the books and records of the partnership, irrespective of the name in which record title to such assets is held.” Jo Ann testified that when the partnership was established, she and her parents had agreed to make Loma Vista a partnership asset. Additionally, the accountant for the partnership testified that he treated Loma Vista as a partnership asset on the partnership books. Therefore, Jo Ann asserted she was entitled to the sale proceeds because decedents’ wills devised their interests in the partnership to her.

The partnership act provides a rebuttable presumption that a partner’s property is separate if it is not acquired with partnership assets:

Property acquired in the name of one or more of the partners, without an indication in the instrument transferring title to the property of the person’s capacity as a partner or of the existence of a partnership and without use of partnership assets is presumed to be separate property, even if used for partnership purposes.

C.R.S. § 7-64-204(4).

Because the UPL and UPA specifically contemplate that real property titled in an individual partner’s name may be deemed an asset of the partnership, the appeals court holds here that a written conveyance from a partner who originally brings real estate into the partnership, although a factor to consider, is not required to convert real property into partnership property.

Frederick B. Skillern, Esq., is a director and shareholder with Montgomery Little & Soran, P.C., practicing in real estate and related litigation and appeals. He serves as an expert witness in cases dealing with real estate, professional responsibility and attorney fees, and acts as a mediator and arbitrator in real estate cases. Before joining Montgomery Little in 2003, Fred was in private practice in Denver for 6 years with Carpenter & Klatskin and for 10 years with Isaacson Rosenbaum. He served as a district judge for Colorado’s Eighteenth Judicial District from 2000 through 2002. Fred is a graduate of Dartmouth College, and received his law degree at the University of Colorado in 1976, in another day and time in which the legal job market was simply awful.

SB 15-049: Vesting Title to Real Estate in An Entity Upon Formation

On January 8, 2015, Sen. Beth Martinez-Humenik and Rep. Jon Keyser introduced SB 15-049 — Concerning the Vesting of Title to Real Estate in a Grantee that is an Entity that has not yet Been Formed Once the Entity has Been Formed. This summary is published here courtesy of the Colorado Bar Association’s e-Legislative Report.

Current law specifies that when a grantee of a deed is a corporation whose incorporation papers have not yet been filed, title to the real estate vests in the corporation once the papers are filed. The bill expands this law to apply to all entities, specifying that title vests once the entity is formed.

The bill was assigned to the Senate Business, Labor, & Technology Committee.