Most people think of property ownership as a singular, all-or-nothing concept. In fact, the law permits many forms of ownership, each with a unique set of rights. The form of property ownership affects its ultimate disposition. Thus, a critical part of estate planning is examining the ownership of your property and ensuring that it reflects your wishes.
Joint tenancy is a way of owning real or personal property by two or more individuals. When property is owned in joint tenancy, there are two or more owners and each owns an undivided share in the same interest. If property is not owned in joint tenancy, it is owned as "tenants in common," and each owner owns a fractional share.
To own property in joint tenancy, the deed or title must have the words "as joint tenants" or "in joint tenancy;" otherwise it will be assumed that the co-owners own the property as tenants in common. In a joint tenancy situation, when one of the joint tenants dies, his or her interest automatically passes to the surviving joint tenant(s), allowing the surviving joint tenant(s) to avoid probate.
Property owned in joint tenancy is subject to the liabilities and creditors of all of the joint tenants. For example, if one of the joint tenants is held liable in a civil lawsuit, the plaintiff or creditor may force the sale of the entire property. Similarly, if a bank account is owned in joint tenancy, any of the joint tenants has the right to withdraw the entire amount at any time.
At Tolison & Williams, Attorneys at Law, LLC, I can undertake a comprehensive analysis of your assets, including their ownership structure, and advise you of the ramifications of different forms of ownership. I am passionate about empowering clients to make important decisions regarding their future with the confidence that comes from receiving professional legal guidance.
For many people, jointly owned real property is their most significant asset. It is important to examine the exact form of ownership to determine how the property will be passed to future generations.
Joint ownership of property can be accomplished in two primary ways:
Determining what type of ownership is at issue requires examining the language of the deed. Likewise, if it makes sense to change the form of joint ownership, certain legal requirements must be satisfied. We can help ensure that the deed effectuates the goals you intend to accomplish.
Estate planning doesn’t have to be tedious and complicated. At Tolison & Williams, we personalize the estate planning process so that you receive services and advice tailored to your unique situation. Learn more by contacting us at 800-331-0745. From our office in Brighton, Colorado, we serve clients throughout the area.