How I can tell if a property deed is a joint tenancy deed or a common tenancy deed?

I called the county in PA where it was issued and they could not help. The land was purchased 48 years ago by my brother and myself.

Asked on August 18, 2011 New York

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Look on the deed itself. If after the owner's names it reads as "Tenants in Common" then that's what it is; if there is no notation the law will presume that it is as tenants in common. On the other hand, if the property is held as joint tenants with rights of survivorship that or similar language must be expressly written on the deed after the names of the owners. It can also be written as "JTWROS", "survivorship rights", or similar wording.

Again, if there is no express language indicating survivorship then the owners will be deemed to be tenants in common. This is because the law construes these matters in as liberal a construction as it can. And a tenancy in common is more freely transferable. As you may know, a tenant in common's share passes to their estate upon their death; a joint tenant's share vests a 100% interest in the surviving owner(s).


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