Tenants in Common vs. Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship

As a Summerville, South Carolina, probate and real estate attorney, I have helped many people who needed to differentiate between Tenants in Common and Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship.In this article, I will review the basic differences between joint tenants and tenants in common, and how survivorship is treated by each type of tenant classification.

In South Carolina, What Are the Differences Between Tenants in Common and Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship?

When two or more people own property, either as joint tenants or tenants in common, each individual owns a share of the entire property. The property is not owned by any individual, but shared as an entity. While joint tenants with survivorship are similar to tenants in common in the right of possession of the property, there are some important differences with respect to the death of a co-owner.

Ownership Interest in South Carolina

While none of the owners may claim to own specific areas of the property, tenants in common may have different ownership interests. Not all owners share in the same percentage of property ownership but they are entitled to the same use and enjoyment as those that own larger percentages. Tenants in common also can be created at different times, meaning that an individual may obtain an interest in the property after the others have entered into a tenancy in common ownership.

Joint tenants, on the other hand, must obtain equal shares of the property with the same deed at the same time. The terms of either a joint tenancy or tenancy in common are spelled out in the deed or title. A joint tenancy is broken if a tenant sells their interest to another, thus changing the ownership arrangement for all tenants.

How Can a Tenancy in Common and Joint Tenancy Dissolve in South Carolina?

Tenancy in common may dissolve if:

  • a co-tenant buys out the others
  • if the property is sold and the proceeds distributed equally among the owners
  • if a partition action is filed, which allows an heir inheriting the property to sell his or her stake

A joint tenancy may dissolve if:

  • if one of the tenants sells his or her interest to another person, thus changing the ownership arrangement to a tenancy in common for all parties
  • if one or more co-tenant buys out the others
  • if the property is sold and the proceeds distributed equally among the owners;
  • if a partition action is filed, which allows an heir inheriting the property to sell his or her stake

What is the Right of Survivorship in South Carolina?

One of the main differences between the tenancy in common and joint tenancy is what happens to the property when one of the owners dies. A property owned by joint tenants with the rights of survivorship allows the interest of a deceased owner to automatically transfer to the remaining surviving owners.

Tenants in common have no rights of survivorship unless the deceased owner’s will specifies that his/her interest in the property is to be divided among the surviving owners. A deceased tenant in common’s interest belongs to his or her estate and must be documented in a will in order for the surviving owners to divide the interest in the property.

If you need help with real estate matters in Summerville, I would appreciate the opportunity to discover the ways in which a tenancy in common and/or joint tenancy with the right of survivorship can benefit you.