There is no more basic yet more misunderstood term in real estate than the difference between joint tenancy vs. tenants-in-common.
These are the two most common methods for multiple people or companies owning a single property. There is a vast difference between the two, despite the similarities in their names. Joint tenancy or Joint Tenants means there is an automatic right of survivorship between the multiple owners. If two or more people own a single property as joint tenants, upon the death of one of them, their ownership interest automatically flows to the others irrespective of the deceased’s Will. Far and away the most common example is that of the family home. The vast majority of couples purchase their homes and take title as joint tenants. Upon the first of the spouses to die the other becomes with very little legal work or formality the sole registered owner of that property. One’s Will has no effect and is irrelevant.
Tenants-in-common has no right of survivorship. When one of the multiple owners who hold a property as tenants-in-common dies, their interest goes wherever their Will says it goes. This is appropriate for business or partnership relationships. Tenants-in-common permit different percentage ownership interests in a property unlike joint tenancy. In Joint tenancy every owner must have the same percentage ownership
The difference is immense and careful attention needs to be paid to this.