When Farima Kushesh-Kaviani and Wishtasb Kushesh split, the divorce hinged on one of the spoils of their brief marriage: a condominium.
Only Farima was on its mortgage application, loan, and deed, and Wishtasb signed an interspousal transfer grant deed calling it her “sole and separate property.” Wishtasb then claimed the condo as his own because it was paid for by funds from his bank account—although Farima’s father had wired him the hefty downpayment. The trial court judge deemed it joint property because Farima and Wishtasb purchased it while they were married to each other, both made mortgage payments, and he declared that the interspousal transfer grant deed lacked certain “magic words” to show it was anything but shared property. He ordered it sold and the proceeds split.
A court of appeal reversed that decision, finding the interspousal transfer grant deed had enough “magic words”—specifically “transfer grant” and “interspousal”—to establish that it transferred the legal title and Wishtasb’s spousal interest to Farima. She got the condo.
But it also exposed one consequence of using an interspousal transfer grant deed: Because the ruling created an unequal division of property, Fatima was left to prove that she didn’t use influence to gain an unfair advantage over her ex. The court of appeal kicked this question back to the trial court.
Be sure your documents contain the necessary language to carry out your wishes with no surprises by consulting an estate planning lawyer. In re the Marriage of Kushesh and Kushesh-Kaviani, 27CA449, Fourth District, Div. Three, G054936, (2018)
About the author:
John O’Grady leads a full-service estate and trust law firm in San Francisco. His practice includes Estate Planning & Administration, Probate and Trust Litigation.