It all started innocently enough. I passed the Deed I had prepared to convey title to the Buyers’ attorney. As is my habit, the woman’s name appeared first, the man’s second, and the manner in which they held title was “as tenants by the entirety”, the legal designation when a married couple purchase together. However, many attorneys from another era were entrenched in having the man’s name first, followed by the woman’s, along with the designation “his wife” or “u/x”. Those designations harkened back to a time of wives being chattel and legal hangers-on without independent rights of their own, and should never see the light of day again (sadly, it still surfaces on documents from time to time).
The Buyers’ attorney acted as if the paper burned his hand as he flung it back towards me. “I don’t want any of your estrogen soaked agenda on my clients’ Deed”, he hissed at me. My sharp retort was far from witty: “Excuse me?”
“You can’t impose your feminist views on my clients. Change the Deed to make it read properly.”
By now, I had collected my thoughts and was ready for a fight (my clients knew me well and would be unfazed by anything I said, which helped). But I realized that this throwback to Medieval times was too set in his ways and prejudiced to engage in a real debate, so I took a deep breath, turned to his clients, and said, “I don’t normally give another attorney’s clients’ advice, but in this case, I am advising you to ask your attorney why he doesn’t want the Deed to your home to reflect your equal worth as a married couple, instead wanting to designate you [gesture at woman] as his chattel.”
Then I shut my loquacious nature down and waited for what I hoped would be some fireworks; I was well-rewarded. Mr. & Mrs. Buyer yelled at their red-faced attorney quite angrily in the next room, to the utter amusement of myself, my clients, and the title closer.
When they came back in the room, not a further word was uttered about the matter, and title was transferred with the original, estrogen-soaked, feminist Deed, prepared with the radical notion that women are people, too.