Joint tenants with right of survivorship as opposed to tenants in common simply deals with what happens if one of you die. As JTWROS, if one of you dies, your share goes to the 2 other owners. If it was tenants in common, the deceased owner's share would pass to his estate (so possibly to wife or children).
These means of holding title have nothing to do with authority. As you are all on title, you'd all have to sign a deed, so no sale could happen without your knowledge (absent fraud and a forged signature). While theoretically 1 owner could get a loan in his own name, if he used the property as security, you'd all need to sign the mortgage, so no secrets there. The JTWROS can only be broken by agreement or any one of you could force the issue of break-up or being bought out by a partition action in court. If broken by agreement, that agreement could take the form of the 3 of you agreeing to switch this to tenants on common, or of one of you selling his interest to a 3rd party and the other two agreeing to have this new partner. In both cases, a new deed would have to be signed (or not signed if you disagree) by the three of you, so no surprises.
To questioners from West Virginia & New York: Although I am licensed to practice in your state (in WV, on inactive status as of 9/13), I practice on a day-to-day basis in Massachusetts. I answer questions in your state in areas of the law in which I practice, and in which I feel comfortable trying to offer you assistance based on my knowledge of specific statutes in your state and/or general principles applicable in all states. It is always best, however, to work with attorneys and court personnel in your own area to deal with specific problems and factual situations.
A side agreement can certainly accomplish what you want.
The above is not intended to be legal advice, but may be used for general information. Please contact an attorney for specific help tailored to your needs. www.figgardenlaw.com
I am not licensed to practice in West Virginia and you need to contact an attorney in West Virginia to help you with this issue. With that being said, a deed recorded in your local jurisdiction is a valid and binding legal document that will be presumed correct. Thus, if the deed vests title in several owners as joint tenants with right of survivorship, that is how it will be interpreted legally.
If the tenancy (joint tenants) was truly a mistake, you should contact the lawyer or title company that prepared and recorded the deed, explain the mistake and ask them to record a new or corrective deed that corrects the error. Note that the other owners of the property who are on title with you will need to consent to this. This is a simple mistake to fix if all the owners agree to it. If they don't agree with you, it will become complicated. An attorney in West Virginia will be able to help you with that.
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Any form of co-tenancy will be insufficient to your purposes. If the co-tenants do not intend that the last man standing inherits the land, joint tenancy with right of survivorship is absolutely wrong. But, in any form of co-tenancy, any tenant can petition a court to partition the land. You need to find a competent West Virginia lawyer and form a corporation or LLC or limited partnership (depending on a number of tax considerations and investment objectives) with a stockholders', operating, or partnership agreement defining the rights and responsibilities of the co-owners.
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