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Julie Garber

Tenants by the Entirety vs. Joint Tenants With Right of Survivorship - What's the Difference?

By March 15, 2011

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Tenants by the Entirety: A special type of joint ownership of property with rights of survivorship only allowed between a husband and wife which is recognized in some states. When one spouse dies, the surviving spouse immediately becomes the sole owner of the property. The property passes outside of probate instead of to the deceased spouse's heirs at law or under the terms of the deceased spouse's Last Will and Testament or Revocable Living Trust. This is usually not the default form of ownership when an asset is owned by married couples unless the property involved is real estate. Depending on state law, this type of ownership can be used for bank accounts, investment accounts, and real estate. In addition, property owned as tenants by the entirety may be exempt from a judgment obtained against one spouse.

Joint Tenants With Right of Survivorship: A type of joint ownership of property where two or more people own the title to an asset together and simultaneously. When one owner dies, the surviving owner or owners immediately become the new owners of the property. The property passes outside of probate instead of to the deceased owner's heirs at law or under the terms of the deceased owner's Last Will and Testament or Revocable Living Trust. This type of ownership can be used with bank and investment accounts, stocks, bonds, business interests, and real estate. This is usually not the default form of ownership when an asset is held by two or more people, instead it's usually "tenants in common." In addition, if one owner of an asset owned as joint tenants with right of survivorship is sued, usually a judgment creditor can force liquidation of the jointly owned property to satisfy the judgment.

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