Do you own your home and other real estate in joint tenancy, where the property is deeded to you and your spouse as “husband and wife as joint tenants?”


If you own your home in this way, do you realize that if you die, that some future person whom your spouse may remarry can very likely end up with your home, instead of your children?  It would be a grand disappointment for your children to find out, that just when your home and real property is paid for, and has increased in value, they would lose out on any chance to inherit it.


The reason this can happen, is that when a home is owned in joint tenancy and one spouse dies, the property automatically becomes solely owned by the surviving spouse.  Then, if the surviving spouse remarries, the property may likely be deeded to both her and her new spouse. Then, if she dies, her new spouse would then become the sole owner of the property.


This event would happen even if you had an estate plan which included a will or a trust, unless the property was deeded into the trust.  The actual vesting on the deed of the home is always controlling.  No will or trust can change the title vesting on the deed itself.


There are several other important disadvantages of owning property in joint tenancy.  If the property is ever deeded to a minor child, the home can then never be sold or refinanced without a court order, even though the minor child is your own.


If a family member is vested on a property in joint tenancy and she is sued and has a judgment entered against her, the judgment creditor can obtain a lien on her share of the property.  The judgment creditor can even bring a partition action to liquidate the property at a sheriff’s sale in order to be paid for her share.


While there are some advantages to owning property in joint tenancy, the disadvantages can turn it into a real trap.  Our office can provide a real education opportunity to you in examining the way in which you own real property, and the options available to you, so that you can plan and be prepared against unwanted outcomes.  Give us a call or an email today to see what those available options are.