Estate Planning and Owning Real Estate with Non-Spouses

This is an estate planning attorney question I get quite often, so I thought I’d answer it here.

The question centers around one thing generally – “how can I make sure my property goes to the right person when I die when I own it with someone who is not a relative?”

Today, I’ve got the answers.

First, it’s important to know the two types of way you can own property.

The first is called joint tenants.

This means you each own your part of the property and you can do whatever you want with it. You can give it to whomever you want, and if you die without a will your property will be distributed according to the rules laid out by the state.

The second is called joint tenants with rights of survivorship.

This means that when one of the property owners die the property automatically goes to the OTHER property owner.

The default method of titling real estate is joint tenants, NOT with rights of survivorship.

How can you make sure it’s joint tenants?

First, before I tell you, DON’T go out there and do anything stupid after I tell you this. Verify with an estate planning attorney.

Okay, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, all you have to do is go look at the deed.

If it DOES NOT say “rights of survivorship” on the deed then you have the first type where you both own your part and can give it to whomever you want.

There are a couple of ways you can do that.

1. Revocable Transfer on Death Deed

2. Will or Trust

If you want to know more about that, set up a time for us to chat!


Christopher Small
Estate Planning Attorney

PS – Click here to schedule a FREE strategy session with an estate planning attorney.