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What's a joint tenancy for real estate?

Sometimes, you can use a joint tenancy to bypass the need for real estate property to go through the probate process after you've passed away. You might buy a piece of property together with another person -- like your spouse -- and set up the ownership as joint tenants. Or, you might simply sign part ownership of your home to a joint tenant as a part of your estate planning strategy.

Joint tenancy gives "the right of survivorship." In other words, the "survivor" who lives longer than the other will be the one who ends up owning the full property one day. Ownership of a home, for example, will immediately transfer to the joint tenant. All the joint tenant needs to do is produce the death certificate and proper identification to show ownership.

A joint tenancy will be honored by the court regardless of whether the deceased party set up a will. This is a legal arrangement that supersedes anything said in the will. For example, if your will tries to leave land or a home to someone else -- when the land is tied up in a joint tenancy -- this part of the will cannot be honored.

Of course, joint tenancy is not the only solution for avoiding probate court. So, make sure you discuss all of your options with an estate planning lawyer in the Newport Beach area before you decide whether joint tenancy is right for you and your family. Our law firm is available to look at the details of your situation and advise you on the most appropriate course to take for all of your estate planning needs.

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