A “joint tenancy” is a form of joint ownership of real property. Joint tenancy is similar to “tenancy in common” in that certain rights and duties come with joint tenancy, but joint tenancy includes a right of survivorship. A right of survivorship means that if a joint tenant dies, his or her interest in the land or property passes to the surviving joint tenant, who then owns the entire property. By the way, joint tenants are entitled to possess and use the entire property, even though they only own a share of it.
In Connecticut, you can terminate a joint tenancy by conveying your joint tenancy interest to any third party, whether by gift or sale. The property is then held by the third party and remaining co-tenant as tenants in common. This means that when one of the co-tenants dies, his or her share passes to his or her heirs, NOT to the surviving co-tenant. As a joint tenant, you can transfer interest without the knowledge or consent of your co-tenant! If you want to terminate your joint tenancy, but still retain an interest in the property, you have a few options:
1. First, you and your co-tenant can agree to convert the joint tenancy into a tenancy in common.
2. Second, you can unilaterally, and without the knowledge or consent of your co-tenant, convert the joint tenancy to a tenancy in common simply by transferring your own interest to yourself, by way of a quit claim deed that makes it clear you intend to hold the property as tenants in common.
3. Third, you can seek judicial partition.
Why Would I Want to Terminate My Joint Tenancy and Create a Tenancy in Common?
The advantage to converting your joint tenancy into a tenancy in common is that your heirs will receive your share of the property when you die. By taking this step, you can ensure that your share of the property goes to your heirs instead of passing automatically to the surviving joint tenant.
Call us today to discuss how to terminate your joint tenancy while protecting your interest in the property. We can also help you to prepare your Last Will and Testament so that you can make sure your property interest goes to your beneficiaries.