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In the last episode of our “How to Avoid Probate” series, we discussed how co-ownership is an effective way around the probate process.
Now let’s drill down a bit, to understand the two common forms of co-ownership. They sound similar, but they are different categories, with different outcomes:
Which approach more clearly avoids probate? Joint tenancy, also known as joint tenancy with right of survivorship, is often your best option. However, unless indicated otherwise, property you own is held as tenants-in-common with other co-owners. To be sure your property is really avoiding probate, then, you need to explicitly set ownership up as a joint tenancy.
Unless you understand this difference, and plan your co-ownership properly, ownership can be severed or terminated by one of the co-owners. If one-co-owner dies, the property must pass through probate.
These two types of co-ownership offer different benefits. When drawing up a co-ownership agreement, it is critical to use the framework that works for you. An experienced attorney can help.