Joint Tenants With Rights of Survivorship: Morbid But Manageable

By Published On: November 19, 20212.4 min read

The term, Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship, refers to the legal ownership by two or more parties of any asset or financial account. When one party dies, the remaining parties inherit their share.

Who Uses a Joint Tenancy with Rights of Survivorship?

While typically used between married couples, or parent and child, a Joint Tenancy with Rights of Survivorship can also be set up between unrelated parties. They are sometimes used for real estate, bank accounts, or brokerage fund accounts.

What are the Requirements for a Joint Tenancy with Rights of Survivorship?

There are four requirements to establish a Joint Tenancy with Rights of Survivorship:

  1. The parties must acquire the assets at the same time
  2. The parties must have the same title on the assets
  3. Each party must own an equal share of the total assets, regardless of what each party paid towards the asset
  4. The parties must each have the same right to possess the entirety of the assets

What is the Difference Between Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship and Tenants in Common?

Regarding Joint Tenancy with Rights of Survivorship: On the death of one party, the asset passes directly to the surviving parties rather than to any heirs. Further, parties in the Joint Tenancy with Rights of Survivorship must own equal shares of the asset. Tenants in Common may split their ownership as they choose.

What Happens in a Joint Tenancy with Rights of Survivorship When One Party Wants to Sell Their Share?

If one party in a Joint Tenancy with Rights of Survivorship wants to sell their share, they may do so. This decision will nullify the original agreement, which will turn into a Tenancy in Common.

What Takes Precedence: a Will or Right of Survivorship?

The Right of Survivorship will override any will that is in place. Indeed, one of the significant advantages of the Joint Tenancy with Rights of Survivorship is that it avoids probate, affording the survivor access to the asset without delay. However, if the asset is preferable to heirs as outlined in a will,, then a Tenancy in Common agreement would be more suitable.

When the last surviving party of a Joint Tenancy with Rights of Survivorship dies, the asset is included in their estate and will go to their heirs.

Joint Tenancy with Rights of Survivorship in Commercial Real Estate

In commercial real estate, a partnership might elect to use a Joint Tenancy with Rights of Survivorship to ensure the ease of the business continuing. Or, especially if unrelated to their business partners, they might choose a Tenancy in Common and allow their heirs to inherit their share of business assets.

Can Anyone in the U.S. Set up a Joint Tenancy with Rights of Survivorship?

No, Joint Tenancy with Rights of Survivorship is not available in every U.S. state. A real estate attorney can advise on the local rules.

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