There are different ways to pass on property after a person’s death that avoid the use of a will. If a person owns property jointly with another person, he or she may wish to leave that share of the property to the other owner. While this can be accomplished in a will, it is faster and more efficient for the two parties to legally own the property as joint owners with right of survivorship.
When multiple people own a property as joint owners with the right of survivorship, it means that when one person dies, the other owner automatically receives the deceased person’s share in the property. The deceased person’s share does not go through probate and does not become a part of the person’s estate to be distributed to heirs and other beneficiaries.
A property that is owned by multiple parties as joint owners with right of survivorship has to be transferred to all the owners at the same time. Joint owners generally own equal shares to the property and have the same ownership rights.
If one of the joint owners sells his or her interest in the property to someone else, it does not terminate the other owner’s right to survivorship. Once the person sells the share, the new owner can only own an interest in the property for the life of the seller. Once the seller dies, the other owner inherits the property as a whole.
Once one of the joint owners dies, the other owner who inherits the deceased’s share should clear the title by filing certain forms. Clearing the title ensures that the title to the property indicates that the property is owned by one person. If the surviving owner fails to immediately file papers to clear the title, he or she can still do so later. It does not void the survivorship right.
Under Michigan law, the transfer of title through survivorship only happens if the person to inherit the deceased’s share outlives the deceased for more than 120 hours. This can become an issue when the two owners are involved in the same accident. If one of the owners dies, the other inherits his or her share only if he or she lives longer than the other owner by 120 hours. If the person survives longer than this, the deceased owner’s share transfers to him or her; if not, then each owner’s share is transferred into each owner’s estate. If there is another document, such as a will, that addresses how the property is to be divided if both owners die together or one shortly after the other, that document will be followed.
Joint ownership with right of survivorship is not restricted to real estate ownership. In some cases, bank accounts, cars, brokerage accounts, and other assets can also be owned jointly with the right of survivorship.
Contact Us for Legal Assistance
Estate planning can get complicated depending on the assets included in the estate and the goals and wishes of the individuals involved. To find out more about how you can plan your estate to take care of your loved ones after your passing, contact Resnick Law, P.C., to consult the skilled estate planning attorneys in Bloomfield Hills and Detroit, Michigan.
(image courtesy of Tim Evans)