When a person dies while still owning real property, one of several things can happen, depending on how that person held title to the property.

Joint Tenancy

When two or more people hold title to a property as joint tenants and one of the owners dies, the remaining owners then become all the owners of the property, and are entitled to have the deceased owner’s name removed from title to the property. This is called a right of survivorship. The process for removing the deceased person’s name requires the provision of proof of death (e.g. an original death certificate) and the registration of a Survivorship Application by the remaining owners.

Tenancy in Common

Unlike with a joint tenancy, when two or more people hold title to a property as tenants in common and one of the owners dies, the deceased owner’s share is dealt with through the deceased’s estate. For example, if Tom, Dick and Harry own a property, each with a 1/3 share, and Tom dies, Tom’s 1/3 share is dealt with in accordance with the instructions found in his Will. If Tom did not leave a Will, then his share would be dealt with in accordance with the laws dealing with intestacy. Neither Dick nor Harry would receive Tom’s ownership interest in the property unless they are beneficiaries of Tom’s estate.

Sole Registered Owner

If a person owns a property on his own, then upon his death, the entire ownership interest would be dealt with in a manner similar to the situation found when one owner as tenant in common dies.

In my next article, I will discuss the process involved with dealing with a deceased owner’s interests when there is no right of survivorship.

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