If 2 siblings jointly own a property, what happens to the ownership if 1 of them dies?

One sibling is married and has children. The other sibling is not married but has children. If the married sibling dies, does the spouse then assume 50% ownership in the property. And likewise, if the single person dies, does the property transfer to the children through Probate, or does the property transfer to the other owner? We ask because we are wondering if we need a separate legal agreement that directs what happens to the property if one of the owners dies.

Asked on January 9, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Wisconsin

Answers:

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

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

It depends just how the deed is written. If it has both of your names followed by the words, "with rights of survivorship", then you own the property as "tenants-in-common". This means that upon the death of one of you, the other automatically becomes vested with 100% ownership of the property. If, however, there is no survivorship designation, then you own the property as "tenants-in-common". This means that upon the death of one of you, that person's share will becomes an asset of their estate and will pass accordingy to the terms of their Will or, if there is no Will, pursuant to state intestacy law.

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

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

It depends just how the deed is written. If it has both of your names followed by the words, "with rights of survivorship", then you own the property as "tenants-in-common". This means that upon the death of one of you, the other automatically becomes vested with 100% ownership of the property. If, however, there is no survivorship designation, then you own the property as "tenants-in-common". This means that upon the death of one of you, that person's share will becomes an asset of their estate and will pass accordingy to the terms of their Will or, if there is no Will, pursuant to state intestacy law.


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