Joint Estate

Author:Jeffrey Lehman, Shirelle Phelps

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Property owned by two or more people at the same time, under the same title, with the same interest, and with the same right of possession.

Although joint estate is sometimes used interchangeably with joint tenancy, the two terms are not synonymous. Joint estate denotes a broad category of ownership that includes JOINT TENANCY, TENANCY IN COMMON, and TENANCY BY THE ENTIRETY. A more apt synonym for joint estate is concurrent estate, which depicts the simultaneous ownership of property by more than one person.

Joint Tenancy

Joint tenants acquire the same interest in the same property through the same conveyance, commencing at the same time, and each holds the property under the same individual possession. Each owner possesses the entire property

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by the appropriate designated fraction as well as by the whole, and has the right to enjoy both the fraction and the whole, but shares that right with all other joint tenants. A joint tenancy is created through a simple and straightforward process?for example, through a deed or will.

The principal difference between joint tenancy and other forms of co-ownership is that upon the death of a joint tenant, the surviving tenants have the right to the sole ownership of the property. This right, known as the RIGHT OF SURVIVORSHIP, exists without regard to the relationship between the tenants. In other words, two people who are not related in any way can be joint tenants, and either will, upon the death of the other, possess all of the deceased's rights of ownership in that parcel of property. The property does not become part of the decedent's estate, and the disposition of the property cannot be changed by will. When one joint tenant dies, the remaining tenants take an increased share of the property, and this process continues until the last survivor owns the entire parcel. That survivor then ceases to be a joint tenant and may do with the property what she wishes, as its sole owner.

Joint tenancy has enjoyed great popularity because it provides a simple mechanism for holding title to property without that title having to pass through probate. The cumbersome nature of certain probate proceedings and the cost and time that they entail provide ample motivation for many people to seek a joint tenancy arrangement. Joint tenancy is often used by a HUSBAND AND WIFE who wish, for example, to have...

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