Joint tenancy is co-tenancy in a concurrent estate meaning the owners took possession, title and interest of the property at the same time. Joint tenancy also comes with the right of survivorship, which gives the surviving tenant the entire property at the death of the other tenant free and clear.
A survivorship deed, unlike a regular warranty deed, creates a joint tenancy between two or more owners. Through a survivorship deed, when one owner dies, his interest goes directly to remaining owners. For example, if Ann and Bob were joint tenants and Bob died, the entire property becomes Ann's. For this reason, joint tenancy is often used to avoid probate.
Tenancy by Entirety
Tenancy by entirety exists in some states. It is a term to signify joint tenancy when the owners are married. If tenancy by entirety exists, there is still the right to survivorship. The joint tenancy, however, cannot be severed, or terminated, without permission from both spouses.
Tenants in Common
Another type of concurrent estate is tenants in common. In the event a joint tenancy is severed, the owners become tenants in common. Tenants in common are required to share net rents from third parties and reimburse each other for taxes or mortgage payments, unless one tenant is in sole possession of the property.
A joint tenancy may be severed in some instances. For example, if one tenant conveys his interest to another party in a will or other testamentary instrument, the joint tenancy is severed. Additionally, taking a mortgage on the property or leasing the property to a third party severs joint tenancy in some states through state property law.
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