Joint Property

Joint Property – in Illinois, and most jurisdictions, can be titled in various ways.  An understanding of how each different type of joint property is essential for estate planning purposes.  Here are some very different ways of holding title to joint property:

Tenants in Common: When an asset or property is held by two or more individuals as tenants in common, each tenant holds an undivided fractional interest in the property.  Upon each co-tenant’s death, the deceased tenant’s share becomes an assets of decedent’s probate estate and is distributed either according to a Will or by intestate succession (laws of descent and distribution).  A co-tenant can retitle a fractional share to a living trust, and that interest will pass pursuant to the terms of the trust.

Joint Tenancy with Rights of Survivorship: Property is held by two or more joint tenants, and the property passes by operation of law upon the death of one joint tenant to the others.   Property held by joint tenancy with rights of survivorship is not a probate asset, and thus no probate estate is required in order for the property to pass to the remaining joint tenant(s).  There must be an express declaration that the property is held as joint tenants, and NOT as tenants in common.  Joint tenancy can be severed, and once severed, the property automatically converts to property held as tenants in common.

Tenancy by the Entirety: A statutorily created form of joint tenancy which can only exist between husband and wife.  The only property that can be held in tenancy by the entirety is the couple’s homestead – their domicile.  Neither tenant can unilaterally sever the tenancy.

Joint Property - Christine C. Karr, Chicago Probate law

Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C.

For more information on joint property, or to schedule an appointment to meet with Christine C. Karr for a free consultation: