Sawada v. Endo

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Sawada v. Endo
Court Supreme Court of Hawaii
Citation
Date decided March 29, 1977

Facts

The Sawadas (plaintiffs) were injured after being hit by Endo (defendant) with his car.

On the day of the car accident, Endo & his wife owned a home as a Tenancy by the Entirety. Before receiving the summons & complaint by the Sawadas, the Endo couple conveyed their TBE (tenancy by the entirety) to their sons.

Endo carried no liability insurance for his car.

The Endos continued to reside at the home that they had conveyed to their sons.

(Hawaii was 1 of 19 states that recognized TBI at the time of this lawsuit.)

Procedural History

The Sawadas sue Endo for money damages in a Hawaii state court. The Sawadas win money damages in the trial court. Shortly afterwards, the Endo wife passes away.

Issues

Is the Endo husband's property interest in a TBE subject to the claims of the Sawadas (Endo husband's creditors)?

Arguments

The Sawadas argued that the conveyance of the Endo home to their sons was fraudulent.

Holding

A spouse's interest in a TBE isn't subject to the claims of that spouse's individual creditors.

Reasons

Neither spouse can convey their property interest in a TBE separately.

Attaching a lien to satisfy only 1 spouse's debt isn't permissible because the TBE would be converted to a joint tenancy or TIC (tenancy in common).

Rule

A TBE can't be dissolved except by both spouses' joint actions.

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