When you take ownership of property, you receive a piece of paper, called a “deed,” that shows you have title. This deed explains how you want to own the property. When you and another person or persons are buying a house together, you can own the property either as tenants in common (TIC) or as joint tenants with the right of survivorship (JTWROS). You still own the home for however much time in each scenario, but Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship Eases Title Transfer After Death.
Each tenant has the right of survivorship, meaning that if one owner dies, that owner’s interest in the property will pass to the surviving owner or owners. The interest in property of the deceased owner simply evaporates, and his or her beneficiaries cannot inherit. Unlike a tenancy in common, where co-owners may have unequal interests in a property or a fractional ownership, joint co-owners each have equal shares in the property. This form of holding title is most common between husbands and wives or parents and children, where the joint tenants want the title to pass automatically to the surviving tenant.
Each tenant in common owns his or her own separate and distinct share of the same property. The size of this ownership share may vary, but each person has an undivided, equal right to use and occupy the entire property. When a tenant in common dies, his or her share of the property goes to his or her beneficiaries, rather than to the other tenants in common. This form of holding title is most common with unmarried persons, especially if they each contribute a different amount towards the property.
FindLaw notes, “In both TIC and JTWROS, when one of the tenants wants to sell his or her part, he or she would sell his or her interest in the property. This is because it would not be feasible to divide the house down the middle and each own respective portions. The buyer would get the same rights and interests as the seller had. If you are buying a house together as a rental property, each tenant would be entitled to a portion of the rental income, proportionate to his or her share.”
Suppose you and a friend buy a beach property together. You intend to provide a place for your family to go for years, write poems and view starfish in tidal pools. However, you and your friend register the deed as joint tenants with the right of survivorship. If you die, the property goes to your friend and your heirs are shut out. That would be a dark cloud on the property to your family. That’s not what you intended.
A better way to purchase the property would be as tenants in common. When you die, your half would go to your heirs.
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