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Can Unmarried Persons Hold Title As Joint Tenants?
By Sandy Gadow
Many times two or more owners want to hold title to a property and they want the "right of survivorship" feature that accompanies Joint Tenancy. These owners do not need to be husband and wife to hold title in Joint Tenancy.
Right of survivorship means that when one of the joint tenants dies, that interest passes automatically to the surviving joint tenants. The surviving joint tenants receive the deceased joint tenant's interest without having to go through probate proceedings. All judgment liens, deeds of trust, or other liens which exist against the deceased joint tenant's interest in the property are eliminated.
In order to create a joint tenancy, all that is normally required is that the deed states that the grantees are to hold title as joint tenants. In some states, specific Joint Tenancy Deeds are required. In many states, four elements are necessary to create the joint tenancy.
Those four requirements are that each tenant must acquire his interest at exactly the same time, that each tenant must acquire his ownership in the same document, that each tenant must hold the same type and amount of ownership interest, and that each tenant must have an equal, undivided, and identical right to possession of the property. All interests much be equal. One tenant may not own a quarter interest and the other tenant a half interest.
Joint tenants are allowed to transfer their individual interest to someone else, but the new owner will come in as a tenant in common with the remaining original joint tenants. Joint tenants may not leave their interest in the property to anyone else in their will. Their interest passes only to the surviving joint tenants.
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