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What is tenants in common?

Posted by attorney Barry Haimo

Tenant in common (TIC) is a form of co-ownership of an undivided interest in property. Remember, property can be anything you own. It is not protected from creditors, and is a fine way to own property. The disadvantages are that an owner's interest in the property will go through probate if owned in his/her name, and that the property is not protected from creditors. This can be avoided by having a trust or business entity own the interest, or using a different form of ownership, such as joint tenants with rights of survivorship (JTWROS). In JTWROS, the surviving co-owners will inherit the deceased's interest in the property automatically by operation of law.

For example, A and B own an investment house in their names personally as tenants in common. If A dies, his interest must be probated or be devised to his/her appropriate beneficiaries in probate proceedings. (If it was owned by a trust it would by pass those proceedings). B would then co-own the property with A's beneficiary's as new owner. In contrast, assume A and B own the property jointly as joint tenants with rights of survivorship. Upon A's death, the property passes to B automatically as the sole owner of the property. There is no need to go through probate proceedings. Joint ownership is helpful for avoiding probate and also devising property to family. However, please note that this form of ownership generally does NOT provide any asset protection benefits.

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