Before receiving an inheritance in New York, an estate must be administered. The administration of an estate can be a long and burdensome process. Some people might choose to consider avoiding probate by owning property jointly with another, thereby entitling the other person to the entire property upon the death of the co-owner.
In New York, there are two types of jointly-held property that will help bypass the probate process: Joint Tenancy with Right of Survivorship and Tenancy by the Entirety.
Joint Tenancy with Right of Survivorship is a document that simultaneously gives two people equal rights and undivided interests in real or personal property. This ownership is typically used for bank and investment accounts, stocks & bonds, business interests and real estate. When one person dies, the other person acquires ownership of the property entirely by right of survivorship and the property is transferred outside of probate.
Tenancy by the Entirety, on the other hand, is a special form of ownership typically utilized by husband and wife. This form of joint ownership is similar to Joint Tenancy with the Right of Survivorship because each spouse acquires the property if the other dies. However, there are some distinct characteristics to the tenancy by the entirety. For example, neither spouse may transfer or convey title to a third party without first securing the consent of the other spouse. In addition, because each person owns the entire property, when one person dies, the other becomes the sole owner of the property and it’s not as if the title has to transfer to the surviving person because that person already owned the entire property.
It is important to remember that each circumstance is different and you and your attorney should discuss what form of ownership is best suited for your particular needs. In addition, owning joint property may have tax consequences that an experienced estate attorney will explain to you.
If you would like to learn more about jointly held property, call the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin at (212) 233-1233.