When married people hold property outright, they will generally hold the title as either joint tenants with rights of survivorship or as community property. Joint tenancy is concurrent ownership, meaning two or more people own the property at the same time. The most compelling feature of a joint tenancy designation is the right to survivorship, and the fact that this occurs without probate. In community property, each spouse has an equal interest in any property acquired after marriage. Though it sounds straightforward, community property can get complicated in the event of death or divorce. The designation of community property with rights of survivorship combines the best of both worlds and offers two very desirable characteristics.
First, there is the same automatic survivorship in the event of one party’s death as in joint tenancy. Second, it can offer you significant tax savings. Community property with right of survivorship is a relatively new way for married couples in California to hold title to property. It enables property deeded after July 1, 2001 to pass to the surviving spouse without going through probate. Before you purchase your property, it is wise to consult with San Diego attorney Alex Scheingross by calling (858) 792-5988 or another local attorney in your area to best determine how it should be titled.