Husband and Wife As Joint Tenants
Attention Homeowners holding title as Joint Tenants
For example: “Robert Smith and Mary Smith, husband and wife as joint tenants”
A Quit Claim or Grant Deed held as “Joint Tenants” allows the surviving Joint-Tenant-Spouse,
by operation of law, to automatically inherit probate-free the deceased joint owner’s share in the property, overcoming your distribution instructions in your Living Trust or Will.
♦ Overcomes your distributive instructions in your Will or Revocable Living Trust
♦ Deprives the surviving owner of a full step-up in basis, incurring higher Capital Gains Tax
This means if you want to leave your share to a loved beneficiary other than the joint tenant co-owner (a child from prior marriage for example) you may need to draft a new Deed to your property.
Note, however, that joint-ownership of retirement, brokerage or bank accounts is a very useful probate-avoidance technique, and often the best way to do so.
But when it comes to real estate, there are many probate-free ways to transfer real property other than a Joint Tenancy. Find the Grant or Quit Claim Deed to your house or other real estate and contact our office for advice.