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

UPDATED: Aug 18, 2011

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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


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

Answered 11 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).

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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