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JOINT TENANCY
    Another common way to prearrange transfer of title to particular property upon death is through joint tenancy. 

    The term "joint tenancy" is actually short for the phrase "joint tenants with full rights of survivorship and not as tenant-in-common." 

    Property owned in joint tenancy does not pass to beneficiaries named in the decedent's Will.  Title to the property held in joint tenancy passes directly to the surviving joint tenant(s) by operation of law upon the death of the first joint tenant.

    The concept of joint tenancy is that two or more people each own an undivided fractional interest in the whole of the property.  This means, for example, that the joint tenant owners have equal legal rights to the use, benefit and enjoyment of the entire property. 

    This form of ownership is most frequently seen among married couples, but its use is not limited to people who are married to each other.  Examples of assets commonly held in joint tenancy are the marital homestead, the family car(s), and the household checking and savings accounts.  However, virtually any type of property that has written evidence of title can be held in joint tenancy.

    Joint tenancy is said to be “fragile.”  Either party can “sever” the joint tenancy at any time.  The act or consent of the other joint tenant is not required.

    An example is withdrawing the entire amount from a bank account.  Either joint tenant can take the entire amount out of the account so long as that joint tenant’s name and signature are on the account.

    Placing all of your property in joint tenancy with your spouse does not eliminate the need for you to have a Will.  You should consult your lawyer to determine what is the proper course for your circumstances.

This page was written on 04190.

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