When real property (land) is shared by two or more people, there are two options for how they will own the property. One option is called Tenants in Common, and the other is called Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship (JTWRS). If a deed is set as Tenants in Common, property is owned in equal shares, and when one tenant passes away their percentage of the property is transferred according to their Will or the laws of their state if they did not have a Will (i.e., next of kin inherits). To legally transfer a deceased tenant’s interest in a property, there must be a probate of the deceased tenant’s estate. It can take several months to get to the stage of the probate process that allows transfer of the deceased tenant’s interest in the property.
If a deed is set as Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship, the surviving tenant becomes the sole owner of the entire property upon the death of the other. This transfer to the surviving joint tenant takes place outside the probate process, it does not follow the deceased tenant’s Will or state laws. All that is needed to legally transfer interest to the surviving joint tenant in Georgia is to submit a document called an Affidavit of Title to the county court where the property resides along with a death certificate. This option provides a significant advantage if the surviving joint tenant wants to sell the property as there is no need to probate the deceased joint tenant’s estate, which typically requires paying legal fees and adds months of waiting time before the property can be sold.
There are advantages and disadvantages to both types of ownership, as is the case for many things in the law and in life. Please contact an attorney for more information about this topic.