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Common Estate Planning Tools: Joint Tenancy

Updated: Aug 18, 2020

Joint Tenancy

What is it? Ownership of property can be held by multiple people at a time. Depending on how the ownership is set up, the disposition of the property at the time of death will vary. This is generally afforded to real property and bank accounts.

Joint tenancy involves a right of survivorship. Put simply, this means that the portion of the property that is owned by one party will automatically vest equally in the other owners at that party’s time of death – avoiding the probate process.

How do I create a Joint Tenancy? Joint Tenancies with a right of survivorship are created when a few main requirements are fulfilled:

Concurrency– Interest in the property for each owner must be created in the same way (by the same document) and at the same time.

Equality– Interest in the property for each owner must be equal

Words of survivorship– Florida requires words of survivorship on the title instrument for real property

For married couples, a joint tenancy with a right of survivorship might become a tenancy by the entireties. This form of concurrent estate also features a right of survivorship along with various other protections.

Joint tenancy will be severed when an owner gives away their share of the property – thus breaking the concurrency in interest requirement. Severance of joint tenancy creates a tenancy in common. Tenancies in common do not have a right of survivorship and interest in the property will not avoid the probate process.

Why do I care? Less attorney fees: The property interest for joint tenancy vests automaticallywhen one owner dies. There is no probate administration and no need for representation.

Administration without (much) delay: although personal representatives of an estate may gain access to a decedent’s property quickly in a formal probate proceeding, the appointment of a personal representative may take a considerable amount of time (especially if the appointment of a personal representative is contested). The property interest in a joint tenancy is disposed of automatically at the time of death, so there is really no delay at all.

A joint tenancy ownership scheme is just one tool in an arsenal to attack estate planning, and these tools should be considered in tandem. The Kendrick Law Group is here to help you consider all of your options; feel free to contact us for a complimentary consultation today.

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