Minnesota Joint Tenancy and Tenancy in Common - Joint Ownership of Real Estate

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Contributed by:
Ron Bowman
Minnesota Title & Abstract Company
523 3rd Ave. West
International Falls, MN 56649
bowman@northwinds.net

Joint tenancy and tenancy in common are the two most common forms of joint ownership of real estate.  Both forms describe ownership by more than one person of the same real estate.  They differ, though, in how ownership transfers upon the death of one of those owners. 

When a joint tenant dies, the surviving joint tenant(s) are then the owners of the deceased owners' share.  "Joint Tenancy" means that if one of the owners dies, the remaining owners acquire the share of the deceased owner automatically. Joint tenants have a "right of survivorship."

When a tenant in common dies, the deceased owners' share passes to heirs or creditors according to the laws of inheritance.  The surviving owners do not automatically acquire the deceased owners' share. Tenants in common do not have a right of survivorship.

Joint tenancy is the most common form of joint ownership among spouses, especially when neither spouse have children from prior relationships.  Tenancy in common may be more appropriate for non family joint ownership or when spouses have children from prior relationships.


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