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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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:

  1. Do you have children from a previous relationship and do you want your share to go to those children?
  2. 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.