What is Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship (JTWROS)? In short, JTWROS is a form of co-ownership.
In property ownership, “joint tenants with right of survivorship” or JTWROS means that the surviving member will inherit the other member’s share of the property in the event of the other member’s death.
Co-tenancy avoids probate or the legal process where a deceased individual’s will must be proven in court. The property does not automatically pass onto his heirs.
JTWROS allows the last living owner of the property to inherit the property of the deceased co-tenant easily. For example, this type of co-ownership is most common among married couples. If a husband dies, the wife will acquire the husband’s share of the property and become the sole owner.
Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship require four unities or conditions.
Each joint tenant must receive his or her share at the same time.
All joint tenants must acquire the title of the property via the same legal document. For example, you cannot give half of your property to Heir A in a deed while leaving the other half of your property to Heir B in your will. In this case, Heir A and Heir B would be tenants in common instead of joint tenants because they did not obtain the title through the same legal instrument.
Each joint tenant must have an equal share of the property. In other words, you cannot leave 40 percent of your property to Heir A and 60 percent to Heir B.
Each tenant must have the right to possess the entire property. There cannot be stipulations that limit the interest of any parties.
JTROS is different from tenants in common. Tenancy in common does not allow the deceased owner’s property stake to pass on to surviving members. Instead, if the tenant dies, he may choose who inherits his stake. JTROS cannot will his ownership stake to anyone; it must pass to the surviving owner.
Additionally, joint tenancy with right of survivorship is created at the same moment in time. All joint tenants receive equal shares of the property at a given time. On the other hand, tenants in common allow multiple tenants to own different portions of the property at different times. For example, two tenants may own 25 percent of the home, whereas the third co-tenant may own 50 percent.
The default ownership stated in the land deed may be either joint tenants in common with right of survivorship or tenants in common depending on what state you live in.
If a joint tenant sells or transfers his ownership portion, a joint tenancy is immediately dissolved. The new owner did not receive his or her share at the same time as the other co-owners. As a result, the new owner is not a joint tenant, but a tenant in common.
For example, let’s say, Mary, John, and Patricia own a home as joint tenants. One of the conditions of joint tenancy is that each owns an equal share. In other words, they each have a one-third interest. If Patricia dies, then the surviving owners, Mary and John, would each inherit half of Patricia’s share. Mary and John would then be joint tenants with one-half ownership stakes.
On the other hand, let’s say that Patricia does not die but decides to sell her share to Chris. Chris cannot become a joint tenant with Mary and John because he receives his share at a later time than the other owners. Instead, Chris would become a tenant in common and own one-third of the home. However, Mary and John would remain joint tenants on two-thirds of the property.
So, if Mary dies, John would automatically inherit Mary’s share and vice versa. If Chris dies, his heir of choice will get his portion of the home.