Real Property

First Restatement of Conflicts (regarding real property)

§§ 211, 214, 217-23, 225-27, 237-38, 244-46, 248-51

The law governing property will take place in the state where the land is located at the time when the conveyance is made.

This is called the situs rule, and governs pretty much any type of interest in real property.

Note also that there is a difference between the capacity to contract and the capacity to convey.

Burr v. Beckler

106 N.E. 206 (Ill. 1914).

Burr filed this lawsuit to foreclose on a trust deed made to him by Ms. Beckler and her then husband Mr. Tobey. The land was in Illinois, the deed transferred in Illinois, but the promissory note authorizing payment was made in Florida. Although the state where the land is located governs the land, the deed must only be valid if the contracted note was valid. Thus, the law that will apply is where the contract was formed. Here, that was in Florida. In Florida, Ms. Beckler did not have the capacity to enter into a contract, so the note is void, as is the deed. Consequently, Burr loses.

The important characterization of this case is that it was done in contract, rather than property.

Thomson v. Kyle

23 So. 12 (Fla. 1897).

This case has the opposite result of Burr. In Burr, the place where the note was made (being a contract) was the place that governed the law. Here, however, the land was in Florida, the note executed in Alabama. The main conflict is whether a woman has the capacity to contract. In Florida, they did while in Alabama they do not. Although the note was executed in Florida, the woman still had capacity because the laws governing the mortgage is Florida, the property being located in Florida.

Personal Property

First Restatement of Conflicts (regarding personal property)

§§ 255-58, 260-61, 289-91, 300-302, 306-307

The location of the chattel at the time of conveyance will govern.

During life, we will look at the situs of the movables at the time of the transaction. Upon death, it’ll be the domicile of the decedent. For marriage, it is the domicile of the marriage.

Blackwell v. Lurie

71 P.3d 509 (N.M. Ct. App. 2003).

Mr. and Mrs. Lurie had purchased a valuable painting in Missouri and sent that painting to New Mexico to be displayed in a gallery on consignment. Subsequently, Mr. Lurie’s law firm went into bankruptcy and Mr. Lurie was found to be over a million dollars deficient. Mr. Blackwell, the liquidating trustee obtained a writ of execution against the painting and sought to enforce it in New Mexico.

The issue in this case is whether Mr. and Mrs. Lurie were tenants by the entirety regarding the painting. If so, then the writ cannot be executed against the painting. Missouri recognizes that Mr. and Mrs. Lurie would be tenants by the entirety while New Mexico does not.

The court utilizes the “time-and-manner-of-acquisition” rule. This rule simply states that the law where the chattel was acquired will govern. Thus, Mr. and Mrs. Lurie are considered tenants by the entirety and their debt is considered separate. Consequently, the writ for execution must be quashed.

Morson v. Second National Bank of Boston

29 N.E.2d 19 (Mass. 1940).

The executor of a the deceased is attempting to recover a stock certificate that was gifted to the defendant while on a trip in Italy. The gift process was sufficient under Massachusetts laws but was lacking formalities required in Italy. So, whose laws govern, Massachusetts or Italy? The court says that stock certificates are different than other types of chattel which allows Massachusetts to govern, despite not being the location where the transfer occurred.

This case was not characterized as a transfer of personal property because stock certificates are unique. Thus, stock certificates will be evaluated based on where the corporation was incorporated. § 53 First Restatement of Conflicts. Had this been characterized as personal property, the jurisdiction would have been where the chattel was located at the time of transfer (here, Italy).


The content contained in this article may contain inaccuracies and is not intended to reflect the opinions, views, beliefs, or practices of any academic professor or publication. Instead, this content is a reflection on the author’s understanding of the law and legal practices.

Will Laursen

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