The designation of joint tenancy or tenants in common is generally related to real estate matters. This designation deals with how the real property is titled. Joint tenancy gives the right of survivorship. This means that if one party dies, the property or bank account is automatically considered to belong to the surviving partner. Joint tenancy provides equal and unlimited access to the property in question to both parties. Joint tenancy does not require that each person named on the title contribute equally to the upkeep. Owners can choose to share in the benefits of the property without equally sharing expenses. Joint tenancy is generally used in the case of married people.
Being tenants in common can lessen the legal hold each person has on the property. A designation of tenants in common can also create issues of legal responsibility. Tenancy in common is beneficial when two or more people buy a piece of real estate but each contributes a different amount of money. In a tenancy in common scenario, each party holds a percentage of interest in the property rather than the 100% unlimited right to access as joint tenants. Tenancy in common should only be chosen if all parties involved have made out valid wills. Each member of a tenancy in common should will their interest in the property to their chosen survivors.
Deciding whether to title property as joint tenancy or tenants in common is a serious issue; if you are unsure, call me with your questions or concerns at (858) 792-5988 or talk to a knowledgeable estate planning attorney in your area.