Tenants in Common VS Joint Tenants
In Georgia, owners of real property are called tenants. When there are multiple owners, they are called co-tenants.
When multiple owners are involved in a property, it is important to understand the two most common types of tenancies recognized under Georgia law.
- Tenants in Common – Tenants in Common is the default tenancy in Georgia. If no other selection is indicated, the tenancy will be Tenants in Common. Upon the death of either owner, his/her property interest will pass to his/her estate. The property interest does not automatically go to the remaining owners. Most commonly, the decedent’s estate must probated or administered to transfer the decedent’s property interest.
- Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship – To create Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship, the deed must contain specific language to indicate this tenancy. It is commonly used by married couples, although that is not a requirement. Upon the death of a joint tenant, his/her property interest will automatically transfer to the surviving joint tenant – thus avoiding the probate process entirely.
So, which is best for you?
The answer is that is depends on your circumstance and your intentions. Factors to consider include:
- Do you have children from a previous relationship and do you want your share to go to those children?
- Do you have an estate plan and Last Will & Testament designed to minimize federal and state estate taxes?
The choice of how to hold title should be given careful consideration. You may wish to consult an attorney and/or a financial planner for guidance and advice on your particular circumstance.