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Joint Tenancy #2-When a Joint Tenant dies

by Frie, Arndt & Danborn

Joint Tenancy-When a Joint Tenant dies
What is the process for transferring title when one joint tenant dies?
The most common assets owned in joint tenancy are real property and bank accounts. In order to transfer the deceased joint tenant’s interest to the surviving joint tenant(s), all that is usually required is the recording of the death certificate and an affidavit in the Clerk and Recorders Office in the county where the property is owned or by presenting an original death certificate to the bank.

Does a Will affect property held in joint tenancy?
There are certain types of assets that are not governed or distributed per the terms of a will. A will only governs property that was owned by you in your individual name that does not have a beneficiary designation. Since joint tenancy property passes immediately to the surviving joint tenant(s) and does not go through the probate process, it is not controlled by the terms of the will. Therefore, it is important to understand how your property is titled and how the different ownership types work in conjunction with your will.

Do you need a Will if everything you own is in joint tenancy?
While assets owned in joint tenancy are not subject to the instructions in a will and do not have to go through the probate process, having a will as a safety net is a wise decision. Some property cannot be owned in joint tenancy, and if the joint tenants die at the same time, the property will then be subject to the joint tenants’ Wills or the intestacy laws.

Attorneys in our office would be glad to assist you with all of your real estate needs. Please call us for help.

This article is an excerpt from a pamphlet published by the Colorado Bar Association.