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Survivorship Deed

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A survivorship deed is a legal mechanism used to transfer real estate property ownership between two or more parties. In a survivorship deed, commonly known as a joint tenancy with right of survivorship (JTWROS) deed, each individual owns an equivalent stake in the property. And upon the death of one person, the surviving individuals automatically inherit the deceased party's stake in the property.

Besides, survivorship deeds are generally used by couples or business partners who want to guarantee that the property they jointly possess will pass directly to the surviving party or parties without probate.

Essential Elements of a Survivorship Deed

Survivorship deeds are widely used in estate planning by families, couples, and business partners to transfer property. Below are the main components of a survivorship deed:

  • Description of Property: The survivorship deed must provide a precise and clear description of the property being transferred, including the legal description of the property, which can be obtained from public records or the property's deed.
  • Survivorship Clause: The survivorship clause is the crucial part of a survivorship deed, stating that when one owner passes away, their ownership automatically transfers to the surviving owner(s). It ensures that the property bypasses the probate process, which can be costly and time-consuming.
  • Ownership Details: The names of all owners transferring the property must be clearly stated in the survivorship deed, along with the percentage of ownership held by each owner. Any limitations or restrictions on owners' rights to the property must also be included.
  • Signatures: All owners listed in the survivorship deed must sign the document, and a notary public or another authorized individual must witness their signatures. The signatures signify that the owners have reviewed and agreed to the terms of the survivorship deed.
  • Recording: It is essential to record the survivorship deed with the county recorder's office where the property is located. It makes the deed a public record and notifies others that the property is owned in survivorship. Recording the deed can be valuable in future conflicts or legal matters regarding ownership.
  • Consideration: Consideration is the exchange value between parties in a real estate transaction. In a survivorship deed, the consideration is typically nominal, implying little or no money exchanged between owners. However, it still must be stated in the deed.
  • Legal description: The legal description of the property is a comprehensive description of its boundaries and other characteristics that distinguish it from other regional properties. This information is vital in identifying the property.
  • Title Insurance: Title insurance safeguards property owners against losses resulting from disputes over property ownership. Obtaining title insurance is important when creating a survivorship deed to protect the owners' interests.

Advantages of a Survivorship Deed

Below are some key benefits of a survivorship deed.

  • Avoidance of Probate: Survivorship deeds are a great way to avoid probate, the legal process of settling an estate after someone dies. Probate can be time-consuming, expensive and often require the court to sell the property to pay debts or taxes. A survivorship deed automatically transfers the property to the surviving owner(s) without going through probate.
  • Protection of Property: Survivorship deeds protect property from creditors or legal disputes. When two or more people own property as joint tenants with the right of survivorship, creditors cannot seize the property to pay off the debts of just one owner.
  • Ease of Transfer: Survivorship deeds make the transfer of property easy. When one owner dies, the property automatically transfers to the surviving owner(s) without any additional legal steps or paperwork. It can make it easier for family members or heirs to manage the property after a loved one dies.
  • Cost Savings: By avoiding probate, a survivorship deed can save money. Probate fees can be expensive, and the process can take months or even years. With a survivorship deed, the property can transfer to the surviving owner(s) quickly and without additional legal fees.
  • Clear Ownership: A survivorship deed provides clarity about ownership of the property. With joint tenancy with the right of survivorship, each owner has an equal share of the property. It can help avoid disputes or misunderstandings about ownership in the future.
  • Tax Benefits: A survivorship deed may offer tax benefits when transferring property. Transferring property through a survivorship deed may result in fewer taxes owed compared to if the property went through probate.
  • Continuity of Ownership: A survivorship deed ensures continuity of ownership, allowing surviving owners to continue managing the property without interruption. Also, it is particularly important for rental or income-producing properties.
  • Peace of Mind: A survivorship deed can provide peace of mind for owners, knowing that their property will pass to the surviving owner(s) without going through probate and that their share of the property is protected from creditors or other legal disputes.
  • Avoidance of Inheritance: Disputes Survivorship deeds help avoid inheritance disputes by clarifying who owns the property and what their share is. It can prevent family members from fighting over the property or contesting a will.
  • Flexibility: Survivorship deeds provide flexibility for owners. The owners can sell their share of the property without the consent of the other owner(s), but the survivorship deed ensures that the property will remain in joint tenancy with the right of survivorship.
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Key Terms for Survivorship Deeds

  • Survivorship Deed: A legal document that allows property owners to pass directly to a surviving owner upon the death of another joint owner.
  • Joint Tenancy: A form of property ownership where multiple people own equal shares in the property, with the right of survivorship.
  • Grantor: The person who creates and executes the survivorship deed, transferring ownership of the property to themselves and another person(s).
  • Tenancy in Common: A form of property ownership where multiple people own a percentage share of the property but do not have the right of survivorship.
  • Contingency: A provision in a survivorship deed that outlines what should happen if one or more joint owners die or becomes incapacitated.
  • Grantee: The person(s) who receive ownership of the property through the survivorship deed.
  • Probate: The legal process of administering a deceased person's estate, which can be avoided with a survivorship deed.
  • Estate Planning: The process of arranging to transfer one's assets upon death, which can include creating a survivorship deed.
  • Property Taxes: The taxes paid on a property can be affected by the ownership structure and transfer of the property through a survivorship deed.
  • Title: The legal property ownership, which can be transferred through a survivorship deed.

Final Thoughts on Survivorship Deeds

In a nutshell, a survivorship deed is a statutory document that allows property owners to pass automatically to the surviving joint owner when one owner passes away. This type of deed is usually used in joint tenancy cases, where numerous individuals own property together. Also, using a survivorship deed can help avoid the probate process, which can be costly and time-consuming. Instead, the property passes directly to the surviving owner without court involvement.

Hence it might not be wrong to say that a survivorship deed can be a valuable estate planning tool for individuals who want to guarantee that their property passes seamlessly to their loved ones after their demise. Therefore, it is important to consult a qualified attorney to ensure the survivorship deed is properly executed and fits the overall estate plan.

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ContractsCounsel is not a law firm, and this post should not be considered and does not contain legal advice. To ensure the information and advice in this post are correct, sufficient, and appropriate for your situation, please consult a licensed attorney. Also, using or accessing ContractsCounsel's site does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and ContractsCounsel.


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