3 Ways to Jointly Own Property

3 ladies looking at laptops at tableUnder Massachusetts State law, there are three ways for people to jointly own real estate:

  1. Tenancy by the entirety
  2. Tenancy in common
  3. Joint tenancy with right of survivorship

The type of ownership conveyed may impact what occurs when a person dies intestate or without a valid will. When someone dies without a will, MA state law governs the transfer of the estate to the heirs. With “Tenancy by the entirety”, if one owner dies then the surviving owner automatically acquires title to the house without the need of a will or a court hearing. This form of joint ownership is reserved for legally married couples.

A second way to jointly own property is known as “Tenancy in common,” which is for people who are not legally married. Under this form of ownership if one owner dies and there is no will, the deceased owner’s share of the property goes to his or her heirs or closest living relative. The surviving owner does not inherit the entire home.

The third form of joint ownership and another way for unmarried people to own property together is known as “Joint tenancy with right of survival.” This form of ownership works the same way as tenancy by entirety–- i.e. the surviving owner may inherit the interest held by the deceased owner without needing a will or having to go to court.

A will or trust, of course, can override any of the inheritance considerations built into the three forms of joint ownership.

Be sure to consult an attorney if you have any questions about estate planning, state laws, tax implications or real estate.

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