This is the first part in a two-part series on holding title to real estate in California, and how it can impact your heirs after your death.

There are a handful of common ways that you, as a homeowner, may hold title to your property in the state of California. The first that we will be focusing on is known as joint tenancy with right of survivorship.

Joint tenancy with right of survivorship is taken by two or more co-owners of a property. To be classified as joint tenants, each individual must take title at the same time, and they all own anequal share of the property. For example, if a married couple were to purchase a home as joint tenants with right of survivorship, one spouse would own 50%, and the other would also own 50%. Since it is possible for more than two individuals to take title as joint tenants together, an example of that situation would be four siblings, all co-owners of one home, and all with an equal interest of 25%.

The term right of survivorship refers to the fact that if one co-owner dies, the remaining joint tenant(s) will absorb the deceased co-owner’s share of the property no matter what they may have willed or otherwise expressed, even if legally documented. If one joint tenant passes away and had previously indicated in their will that they would like to grant their share of their home to be split between their two children, that specific request would have no legal weight because of the right of survivorship that exists between joint tenants. The remaining joint tenant(s) will always receive the deceased owner’s interest in the property and a will or trust has no bearing on that outcome. However, an individual joint tenant can give or sell their interest to a new owner without the permission of the other co-owner(s) while they are still living.

A benefit of joint tenancy is the fact that probate is not necessary in the case of a co-owner’s death because the other owners automatically inherit the share. To find out more about what probate is and why everyone wants to avoid it, please click this link to check out one of our past blog posts on exactly that topic.

Happy Planning!


The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. Brittany Britton is licensed to practice law in the state of California only.