If a deed reads sell and release unto the said John Doe and Jane Doe, does is mean tenants in common since it does not show right of survivorship?

Asked on September 3, 2011 under Real Estate Law, South Carolina


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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Typically in order to have a joint tenancy, some specific language needs to be noted on the deed. For example, "John Doe and Jane Doe, as joint tenants with rights of survivorship (or JTWROS), or similar wording. Otherwise, if a deed has no such notation the legal presumption is that the owners hold title as tenants in common.

The presumption is made due to the fact that a tenancy in common is more freely transferable. A tenant in common can convey their interest asthey see fit during their lifetime or after their death; a joint tenant with a right of survivorship limits the joint tenants rights regarding the transferability of their interest upon their death. When a JTWROS dies, their interest automatically goes to the surviving joint tenant(s); in other words a JTWROS cannot bequeath their interest.

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