Joint Tenancy in Real Estate
Joint Tenancy allows the real estate to transfer to the surviving owner(s) on the death of one owner. It is most commonly used between spouses but is used in other situations and between more than two people.
There are many other ways to own land: Tenants in Common, Family Trusts, Partnerships, LLC’s, Corporations. Individuals usually hold real estate as joint tenants or tenants in common.
What It Does
This type of joint ownership allows for the surviving owners to receive the real estate upon the death of the other owner(s). It is most commonly used between spouses.
Upon the death of one, the surviving spouse records an affidavit of survivorship and a death certificate in the county recorder’s office. The ownership of the property is then transferred to that person.
The great advantage is the transfer happens without probate, attorneys, courts or major cost. The affidavit of survivorship is a simple one page document, easily prepared.
How To Use It
Using this type of vesting is simple. The following words “as Joint Tenants” is added after the buyer’s name on the purchase deed. If it isn’t added, the buyers can record a new deed at anytime to add it.
The following phrases are sometimes used instead of Joint Tenants; “husband and wife, as joint tenants”, or “as joint tenants with full rights of survivorship”. There are many combinations but the main part is “as Joint Tenants”.
In some states simply adding “husband and wife” after the buyers names is enough. To be safe always use “as joint tenants”. You can add the extra wording if you prefer.
Any owner can cancel this vesting between themselves and the other owner or owners. They record a deed transferring their interest to themselves or someone else without using the joint tenants wording. When they do, the remaining owners (if more that one) are still joint tenants.
When To Use It
The most common use of this joint ownership is between husband and wife but can be used in other situations and between more than two people. No matter how many people are joint tenants upon the death of one, ownership reverts to the survivors. Joint tenants is used anytime you want the surviving owners to own the property instead of the estate of the deceased owner.
Several cautions are in order. First, make sure you want the property to go to the surviving owner(s). A common vesting error is when a couple with separate children buy real property as joint tenants when they intended their own children to receive their share of the land.
Joint Tenancy allows ownership of real estate to pass to surviving owner(s) upon the death of one of the owners. It is simple to use by adding the correct wording to a deed when purchasing land. It can be added or removed at anytime by recording a new deed at the county recorder’s office.
It is not the correct vesting for every situation. Decide what you are trying to accomplish and then choose the correct vesting.