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Termination of Joint Tenancy

Joint tenancy is a way for two or more people to share ownership of real estate or other property. When one joint tenant dies, the other owners automatically own the deceased owner's share. For example, if spouses own a house as joint tenants and one dies, the survivor automatically becomes full owner. Because of this right of survivorship, the property goes directly to the surviving joint tenants without the delay and costs of probate.

Upon the death of a joint tenant, the surviving joint tenant(s) need to remove the deceased joint tenant's name from the title to the joint tenancy property. In the case of real property, this requires the preparation and filing of an Affidavit--Death of Joint Tenant and the forms required by the local County Assessor. In the case of personal property such as bank accounts, brokerage accounts, etc., a death certificate needs to be submitted to the holder of the asset along with the forms required by the holder of the asset. Many of these forms raise serious legal, practical, and tax issues that should be carefully reviewed.

There can be serious legal and tax issues associated with using joint tenancy as a method to pass property to children or other beneficiaries upon death, which issues should be carefully reviewed with an attorney.

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