Business & Property

Property Law: Joint Tenant vs Tenants in Common

Adelaide property lawyer Giles Kahl answers a common legal question. What Does "Joint Tenant" and "Tenants in Common" Mean?

Adelaide property lawyer Giles Kahl answers a common legal question.

The terms “joint tenant” and “tenants in common” are used to refer to two different types of joint ownership of property.

Usually, these terms relate to real estate but can apply to any property.

In a joint tenancy, when one of the joint tenants dies that person’s interest in the property “disappears” – there is no interest in the property which passes to the deceased estate, and the other joint tenant (or tenants) automatically becomes the complete owner.

In a tenancy in common, when an owner dies that person’s interest is preserved and passes to their deceased estate.

Where the property ownership is shown on an official register (e.g. land and shares), some formalities must be followed to alter the register and reflect these changes.

For a joint tenancy, the formalities are relatively simple. Essentially it is only necessary to prove the fact of death, and the register should then be changed.

For a tenancy in common, the formalities are more complex. The process may involve (and in the case of real estate, always involves) obtaining probate of the Will of the deceased owner.

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