Property may be owned jointly by multiple parties in several different forms. These forms of co-ownership have distinct legal rules for transferring, sharing and determining ownership in the event of various events. The three main types of co-ownership are: joint tenancy, tenancy in common, and tenancy by the entirety.
The relationship of tenants in common is governed by several key principles. There is no limitation as to how many individuals can share property in a co-tenancy. Most importantly, each co-owner has the right to use the entire property, but also owns an individual share of the property. The costs associated with maintaining the property are assigned in proportion to the ownership shares owned by each tenant. But ownership shares among the tenants need not be equally divided.
Transfer by co-owner. A co-owner can typically transfer his ownership interest at will unless there is a right of survivorship. The right of survivorship authorizes the surviving owner in a joint tenancy or tenancy in common to automatically acquire the deceased owner’s share of the property upon death. Assuming there is no right of survivorship, a co-owner can sell his interest to a buyer who becomes the new co-owner. In this way, a tenancy in common persists with the new owner. However, a co-owner can transfer only his right in the property; he may not transfer the rights of other owners without proper consent. Similarly, if the ownership interest has the right of survivorship, one owner cannot transfer the property without the consent of co-owners.
Death of co-owner. When a co-owner dies, the disposition of the property depends upon what type of ownership interest exists. If property is owned as joint tenants, then the right of survivorship exists. Similarly, a tenancy by the entirety, which is a property interest shared by spouses, has a right of survivorship. If the property is held as tenants-in-common, and no right of survivorship exists, the interest in the property does not automatically transfer to the co-owner. In this situation, the ownership interest will go to probate and ownership will be determined either by will or by the intestate laws of the state.
The experienced team of attorneys at the Law Offices of Mark Weinstein, P.C. can help you litigate your real estate claims. Contact Mark Weinstein and his colleagues at (770) 888-7707 or visit them at http://www.markweinsteinlaw.com to find out how they can advise you.