California residents who have purchased a home know that completing a residential real estate transaction involves signing copious amounts of documents and dealing with a profusion of legal issues. Deciding how residential properties will be titled is a crucial consideration when more than one buyer is involved, and understanding the differences between joint tenancies and tenancies in common can prevent bitter legal disputes should one of the buyers die.
The word "tenant" is derived from English common law and means "owner" when used in residential property transactions. When more than one party is involved in a real estate acquisition, they may hold title to the property involved as either joint tenants or tenants in common. The main difference between these two ways of taking title is how real estate is treated when one of the tenants dies.
Joint tenants enjoy the right of survivorship. This means that when one of the owners passes away, their share of the property automatically passes to the other joint tenants. This is generally the way that married couples take title to real estate as it simplifies estate planning and avoids probate. Tenants in common do not enjoy survivorship rights, and their property interests are passed to their heirs or the persons named in their wills when thy die. Once these decisions have been made and financing has been arranged, deeds and mortgage documents are recorded to complete the conveyancing process.
Attorneys with experience in this area may help buyers and sellers to complete residential real estate transactions by ensuring that documents are properly drafted, reflect the wishes of the parties involved and are appropriate for the way properties will be titled. Attorneys could help residential property buyers to make more informed decisions by explaining the differences between joint tenancies and tenancies in common.